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New York Estate Real Estate Can Complicate Administration

Real Estate ownership by a decedent is commonplace. A person may have owned a family residence, or investment or commercial properties. Ownership interests may also appear in the form of cooperative and condominium units.

These types of assets constitute one of, if not the, most valuable estate asset. The administration and disposition of estate real estate is often the subject of controversies. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles regarding issues concerning real estate.One problem that occurs time and again is where the decedent’s property is occupied by a third person. Whether the occupant is a relative or non-relative of the decedent such as a tenant, the continuing presence of such persons can interfere with estate settlement. Numerous prior blog posts have explored this issue. The estate fiduciary, whether an executor or administrator, typically wants the occupant to vacate the property so that it can be properly maintained and sold. New York City estate lawyers who are confronted with these situations are aware that it can be difficult to sell a residential property where a family member or tenant refuses to leave. In most of these cases the property needs to be sold to satisfy a mortgage or to facilitate distribution of the sales proceeds among the estate beneficiaries.

There are various avenues that estate attorneys can take to try and obtain full possession of the decedent’s real estate. Eviction proceedings can be commenced in the local county Landlord Tenant Court. These are generally known as Holdover proceedings. Another possible avenue is to commence a turn-over proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court. These proceedings seek to have the Surrogate issue a warrant of eviction.

I have represented Executors and Administrators in many proceedings to obtain possession of estate property.  The estate litigation that was commenced included landlord tenant eviction cases and also petitions to the Surrogate to obtain a turnover of the asset.

All of these types of litigation involving estate property can be very time consuming and complicated. A recent case decided by Manhattan Surrogate Nora Anderson on May 30, 2017 entitled Matter of Flender demonstrates the difficulties a fiduciary can face in obtaining possession of estate property. In Flender, the decedent’s daughter refused to vacate one of the decedent’s properties. Since the co-executors wanted to sell the property, they initiated an eviction proceeding in the local landlord tenant court. While the daughter had initially agreed to vacate the premises, she ultimately asked an appellate court to stop the eviction based upon her claim that the fiduciaries were interfering with her rights under the Will to purchase the property.

The eviction proceeding was then dismissed by the local Housing Court and proceedings were started in the Surrogate’s Court to obtain possession of the property. In these proceedings Surrogate Anderson refused to grant the fiduciaries summary relief because disputed issues existed regarding the rights that the daughter had to purchase the property and her ability to do so utilizing funds she may be entitled to from the estate.

As can be seen from Flender, the administration of real estate and evicting occupants can be very complicated. These matters can interfere with and cause extensive delays in estate settlement. If you have any issue regarding estate real estate or evicting someone in possession of estate property call me now for a free consultation.

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 Manhattan and Brooklyn. 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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