An Executor of a New York estate, or other fiduciary such as an Administrator, is the party empowered by law to act on behalf of the estate. The underlying purpose of a Surrogate’s Court probate or administration proceeding is to have the Court officially appoint a person or institution that has the legal authority to handle the decedent’s affairs. Similarly, a Trustee is empowered to represent a Trust.
There are many circumstances in which the authority of an Executor or other fiduciary may arise. The recent case of Friedman v. Clearview Gardens, concerned issues of an Executor’s powers and arose in a landlord-tenant eviction proceeding involving a cooperative apartment.
In Friedman, decided by the Hon. Charles Markey on February 3, 2011, (Supreme Court, Queens County), Ron Friedman (“Ron”) brought a lawsuit against the cooperative corporation essentially to stop an eviction proceeding and to have the cooperative corporation put the coop stock into his name. Although Ron had lived in the apartment for over 50 years, the coop stock ownership was in the name of Ron’s mother who had died in 2006. Ron’s brother, Daniel, was named as the Executor of the mother’s estate by the Queens County Surrogate’s Court.
The Court ruled that Daniel, as Executor, and not Ron, had the legal authority to sue the cooperative corporation. Moreover, the Court found that a power of attorney that Daniel had given to Ron was ineffective since an Executor is not allowed to delegate his or her authority.
The Friedman case demonstrates that a Court appointed fiduciary is necessary to control and oversee the assets and other affairs relating to the settlement of a decedent’s estate.
I have represented many Executors and other fiduciaries in various matters, including landlord-tenant proceedings, that involve a decedent’s interests. A decedent’s estate may need to evict a tenant from estate property if it must be sold or if the tenant is unwanted. Similarly, an estate or trust may require protection from an eviction to protect the decedent’s rights property.
New York Probate 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 Queens. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.