When a person dies without a Last Will he is considered to have died intestate. Queens estate attorneys, like those in other counties, are familiar with the procedure to have an Administrator appointed to settle the estate. The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) and the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) provide the statutory rules and procedures for the appointment of a fiduciary. Typically, anyone who is interested in the estate settlement can petition the Court for the appointment of an administrator. However, the statutes provide an order of priority for the persons who can actually be appointed.
The procedures of the Surrogate’s Court can be very complex and confusing to family members who are faced with having to handle issues relating to a decedent. It is usually a good practice to obtain the guidance of a New York Administration attorney to assist with these matters. A recent case decided by Staten Island Surrogate Robert Gigante on December 2, 2014 illustrates the problems that can arise when a person does not obtain the help of an estate lawyer. In Matter of Dinger, a grandson of the decedent petitioned the Court to have himself appointed as estate administrator. This petition was opposed by a daughter of the decedent. The grandson claimed that the decedent owned a cooperative apartment. However, the daughter asserted that she owned the apartment with her mother as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. Such ownership would have kept the cooperative apartment out of the administration estate since it would have passed automatically by operation of law to the daughter. In Dinger the daughter appeared in Court time and time again without an attorney. She also claimed to be in possession of a Last Will which she did not file despite the Court’s repeated requests that she do so. It was important to the Court that the decedent’s estate be properly administered. Although there was a dispute as to the ownership of the cooperative apartment and the existence of a Will, the daughter was not able to properly present her case or positions to the Court without adequate legal guidance. As a result, the Court granted the petition of the grandson and appointed him as estate administrator.
I have represented numerous clients during the past 30 years in proceedings for the appointment of an estate administrator. In many cases there can be controversies and estate litigation regarding which person the Court should appoint. I have assisted family members to resolve these matters and to obtain appointments from the Court so that they could administer their loved one’s estate.
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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