New York Estate Accounting Proceedings Involve Issues Regarding Commissions

An estate fiduciary such as an Executor and Administrator has many different obligations. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many of these duties. For example, the fiduciary must locate, protect and collect estate assets. This function includes such tasks as closing a decedent’s bank accounts or brokerage accounts and depositing the funds into a newly established estate bank account.

Also, the fiduciary must pay a decedent’s debts and obligations. These items may include rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, income taxes and credit card payments. Another source of expenses are those incurred during the course of Estate Administration or Estate Settlement such as estate taxes, brokers fees that may be incurred if a decedent’s real estate needs to be sold and the costs of maintaining and protecting estate assets.Once the estate activities have been finalized, an Executor or Administrator has a duty to provide the estate beneficiaries with an accounting of all the transactions he engaged in.  The accounting provides beneficiaries with a detailed description of the estate assets and income the fiduciary collected, the expenses and obligations that were paid and the value of the estate that remains on hand to be distributed.

Article 22 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) provides many provisions regarding accountings.  Among the many statutory parts of the SCPA, Section 2208 is important because it sets forth the basic rule that a fiduciary may present his account to the Court along with a petition to have the account judicially approved.  In connection with the accounting the fiduciary typically asks the Court to allow the payment of fiduciary of commissions.  A commission is a fee that the fiduciary is paid for performing his executorial duties.  The amount of the commissions is set by statute.  SCPA Section 2307 details the amount of commissions to be paid to fiduciaries such as Executors and Administrators.

Sometimes there is a dispute between the parties interested in an estate regarding the amount of commissions to be paid to a fiduciary.  Recently, Manhattan Surrogate Rita Mella decided a matter entitled Estate of Orecchia which concerned the amount of commissions an estate Executor was entitled to receive.  In Orecchia, which was decided on October 14, 2015, the Executor was required, pursuant to the decedent’s Will, to hold onto the decedent’s cooperative apartment and allow the decedent’s wife to live in the apartment for as long as she wanted to do so.  The Surrogate found that the Executor was entitled to be paid a commission on the value of the apartment because the Executor performed executorial functions such as making sure that the maintenance on the apartment was being paid by the wife and paying same if needed.

I have assisted many fiduciaries with the preparation of their Executor or Administrator accountings. I have also helped many beneficiaries review a fiduciary account and file objections to the Account when necessary. Accountings can be very complicated and the assistance of a New York Surrogate’s Accounting Attorney can be helpful. If you have a question concerning an estate or trust accounting, call me now for a free discussion.

New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to estate accountings and estate settlement in Manhattan and Queens County and other New York Counties. 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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