New York Surrogate’s May Issue an Injunction to Protect Estate Property

Executors and Administrators in New York have many different duties and fiduciary obligations.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed the importance of a fiduciary acting properly and protecting estate assets.

A source of controversy in estate administration often involves the ownership and management of real estate. Typically, a decedent’s home and other real estate holdings constitute the most valuable asset in an estate. Sometimes, a relative of the decedent or friend may have been living with the decedent for many years prior to the decedent’s death. Once a fiduciary is appointed to handle estate matters, the executor or administrator will need to take control over the real estate. This may result in the need to evict the persons who had been living with the decedent. The fiduciary must be able to protect the real estate and control it since there is a fiduciary obligation to safeguard estate property. As can be imagined, the long-time occupant of the property may oppose or interfere with the fiduciary’s activities and claim that they have a right to continue to occupy or even own the home. In these cases the fiduciary needs to commence Surrogate’s Court proceedings or Landlord-Tenant eviction proceedings to obtain control over the real estate. In some cases the Court may issue an injunction and stop the occupant from interfering with the executor or administrator or otherwise causing harm to the property.Such was the situation in a recent case decided by Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez-Torres on September 18, 2015 entitled Matter of Brown. In Brown the decedent died intestate (without a Will). Since the decedent was a domiciliary of Virginia, the Brooklyn Surrogate issued ancillary letters of administration to the administrator in order to allow the administrator to have control over the decedent’s New York real estate.

The ancillary administrator then filed with the Surrogate’s Court a turnover proceeding to have a third party turnover to the administrator the decedent’s real property and the personal effects belonging to the estate. It appeared that the third party had been living in the house with the decedent and had transferred title to property to herself and also claimed that she was an adopted child of the decedent on equitable grounds.

The Court found that the third party did not present viable evidence of an adoption and that her interest in the property appeared questionable. At the request of the administrator the Court issued an injunction preventing the third party from interfering with the real estate and collecting any rent from the tenant of the property or trying to evict the tenant.

I have represented numerous Executors and Administrators who have administered estates owning real estate. Sometimes it is necessary to evict occupants when the property needs to be sold. I have commenced and prosecuted eviction proceedings in Landlord-Tenant Court and have also asked the Surrogate’s Court to remove relatives and other occupants from houses when they are interfering with Estate Administration and Estate Settlement. If you have any questions regarding this estate issue please call me now for a free review of your matter.

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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