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Important Information About Surrogate’s Court Accounting Proceedings

The job of an estate fiduciary is to settle a decedent’s estate.  Whether the fiduciary is an Executor or Administrator there are three main aspects to estate administration.  At the outset, the proceeding to appoint a fiduciary is critical.  This is because until an administrator or executor is appointed, there is no one who has authority to handle the affairs of the decedent.  Thus, estate assets cannot be collected or protected and estate debts and obligations cannot be paid or satisfied.

Each estate is confronted with different issues.  Sometimes a Last Will needs to be probated which may result in estate litigation in the form a Will Contest.  Other estates may be intestate which can involve kinship hearings.

Once a fiduciary is appointed, the next step is to collect the assets of the estate and determine what debts, taxes or other liabilities need to be resolved.  On occasion, there may be lawsuits involving the decedent concerning debts such as mortgages, credit cards or medical expenses.  There can be disputes concerning real estate ownership or business interests.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles relating to estate administration.

At the time when the estate affairs have finally been completed, the fiduciary must provide a full accounting to all of the estate beneficiaries.  The estate accounting provides a record of all of the assets collected and amounts expended during the course of the estate.  Each executor and administrator is obligated to provide to the beneficiaries all bank statements and other papers that were relied upon in creating an accounting.   When there is a formal accounting filed in the Surrogate’s Court, the fiduciary is subject to testifying as to his actions regarding estate affairs.

A recent Brooklyn Estate Accounting case provides some insight into the accounting procedures.   In Matter of Estate of Bebko, decided by Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres on October 25, 2019, an Administrator of an estate was attempting to settle her account.   It appears that the Administrator was not cooperating with various demands by a beneficiary for information regarding the estate.   The Court ordered the Administrator to provide the beneficiary with documents and information about the accounting issues and also to appear to give testimony regarding her actions as the fiduciary.

Call me now for a free discussion regarding estate or accounting issues.   I have represented clients throughout New York in accounting proceedings and other estate disputes.  We offer reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York State including Nassau County and the Bronx.   If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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