There is general agreement that it is important to prepare a New York Estate Plan. The documents that may be considered in planning include a Last Will and Testament, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney, Living Will and Revocable Trust. Some of these papers are referred to as advance directives.
When a person prepares a Last Will, the document is comprised of many different provisions. There are dispositions of a person’s assets which may be comprised of specified assets or bequests. Other dispositions may be in more general terms such as the disposition of the residuary estate.
Another very important part of a Will is the nomination or designation of fiduciaries such as Executors and Trustees.
After a person dies, a Will must be presented to the Surrogate’s Court in the probate process. Probating a Will means that the Court determines that the Will is valid and its terms must be followed. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles concerning Wills and Probate.
Sometimes the probate process is delayed. This can be caused by a number of different issues. There may be a Will Contest which can cause extensive delays. Also, there can be problems determining, locating or serving a Citation on the decedent’s distributees. Any such delay prevents the final appointment of an Executor and the settlement of the estate.
In order to prevent delays in estate administration, SCPA Section 1412 entitled “Preliminary letters testamentary” provides for the appointment of a Preliminary Executor. The Preliminary Executor serves until the final determination regarding the probate of the Will. Also, the Preliminary Executor has all of the powers of an Executor except for the authority to distribute assets to beneficiaries.
When the Court appoints an Executor or a Preliminary Executor, it typically names the person designated in the Will. The Court wants to follow the intentions of the decedent as much as possible. The nominee usually is appointed even though there may be personal objections by the beneficiaries or some type of conflict of interest. Any objections to the appointment must be very serious and be specifically identified. Nevertheless, there are occasions when the Court refuses to appoint the person designated in the Will. In a recent Bronx estate case entitled Estate of Harris, decided by Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez on June 19, 2019, the Court refused to extend Preliminary Letters Testamentary. The Court found that the conflicts and animosity between the Preliminary Executor and estate parties was interfering with the proper administration of the decedent’s estate. Instead, the Court appointed the Bronx Public Administrator as the temporary administrator of the estate.
Call me now for a free review if you have a question or issue concerning an Executor or Probate. I have represented many individuals throughout New York regarding Probate and other estate matters. 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 City including Queens 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 free consultation.