Did you know that a fiduciary in New York has certain duties and obligations. A fiduciary includes an Executor, Administrator and Trustee. These duties and obligations include the protection of estate assets and the payment of funds to the beneficiaries.
When a fiduciary fails to act properly, he may be found to have breached a fiduciary duty. There are many different circumstances that can result in a breach of duty. For example, if an Executor uses estate funds for his own benefit, such conduct is improper. Also, if an Administrator fails to pay an estate expense on time such as taxes and the estate is charged extra interest and penalties, this situation may be found to be a breach of duty.When a breach occurs, persons who are interested in an estate can ask the Surrogate’s Court to remove the fiduciary and revoke his letters of appointment. Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Section 711 entitled “Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct”, sets forth a number of grounds upon which a Court can revoke letters of appointment. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published a number of posts regarding the duties of a fiduciary.
In a recent case, the Co-Administrators in a Manhattan Administration estate were recently removed. The name of the case is Matter of Estate of Booker. It was decided by Manhattan Surrogate Nora Anderson on December 14, 2017. In Booker the Administrators were handling an estate where the primary asset was a valuable brownstone. It appeared that one Administrator had improperly transferred the asset to herself. The other Administrator mismanaged the building and subjected the property to a foreclosure.
The Court found that both of the Administrators acted improperly and removed them. Since the estate needed a new Administrator the Court appointed the Public Administrator. The Public Administrator is a county official who handles estates where no other person is authorized to act as fiduciary or is willing to take on the responsibility.
Breach of fiduciary duty is a serious concern in all estate cases. I have represented fiduciaries and beneficiaries in these cases which usually involve estate litigation. Call me now if you have a question or issue regarding breach of duty or estate administration.
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 and Bronx. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.