Important Information Concerning The Appointment Of An Estate Administrator

When a person dies without a Last Will and Testament he is known to have died intestate.  In these cases the person’s distributees or next of kin have the statutory right to inherit the estate assets.  Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 4-1.1 entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate” provides the list of individuals who are entitled to inherit the estate.   The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains numerous articles discussing intestate estates.

Before the estate can be settled an administrator of the estate must be appointed.  Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) section 1001. entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administration” designates the distributees who have the priority to be appointed as estate Administrator.   Essentially, the priority under SCPA 1001 follows the inheritance rights under
EPTL 4-1.1.

A recent estate case decided by Erie County Surrogate Acea Mosey on August 27, 2019, provides some interesting insight to the Administration appointment process.   In Matter of Estate of Corey, a decedent died leaving three children and two grandchildren who were the children of a pre-deceased child of the decedent.  Thus, the surviving children and grandchildren were potential appointees as the estate Administrator.   However, all of the distributees agreed at the time to designate the decedent’s long-time attorney to act as the Administrator.   This type of consent is not unusual particularly where either one member of the family or a non-distributee is agreeable to all of the distributees.  The distributees would all sign a form entitled “Waiver of Citation Renunciation and Consent To Appointment of Administrator” in which they would designate the appointee.

In Corey, after the attorney was appointed, the children of the decedent sought to revoke the attorney’s letters of administration and remove him as Administrator.   In this regard, the Court rejected the application for removal which was based upon the assertion that once the children revoked their consents the Administrator no longer had any right to continue to serve.  However, the Court found that there was no legal basis for this type of removal once the Administrator was appointed.  The Court also determined that the application for removal did not present a basis for removal pursuant to SCPA 711 entitled “Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct”.   The Court could not find any conflict or improper conduct by the Administrator that would interfere with the proper administration of the estate.

I have represented many persons in proceedings for the appointment of an Administrator of an Estate and also for the appointment of an Executor in probate cases where there is a Last Will.  Call me now for a free review if you have a question regarding estate administration, or other Surrogate’s Court matter.  We provide flexible and reasonable 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 City including Queens County and Brooklyn.   If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.


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