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A Public Administrator May Administer a New York Estate

There are many cases in the Surrogate’s Court which involve a Public Administrator. Generally, a Public Administrator is a public official who is given the authority to administer estates where no other person or entity is properly available to act as fiduciary. Article 11 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) sets forth provisions regarding such administrators in New York City. For example, SCPA Section 1112 is entitled “Authority to act” and provides that the Public Administrator in a county, such as Kings County or Queens County, can “take charge of the personal property of the intestate” when a decedent dies intestate and there is no known person eligible to receive letters of administration.I have been involved in many cases in which the Court has appointed the Public Administrator to handle the estate affairs. Such appointments are common when the decedent’s next of kin are unknown or are very distant in relation such as cousins. Most of these estate cases require that the family members that can be located prove their right to inherit through a Kinship Hearing.

Kinship Hearings in Surrogate’s Court are very complicated matters and require proof of kinship by the presentation of birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates and other papers. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed kinship matters in earlier posts. New York Estate Lawyers are familiar with proving next of kin issues and often use the help of Genealogists and professional investigators to find lost heirs and the documentation needed to prove kinship.

A recent Surrogate’s Court case demonstrates the involvement of the Public Administrator in estate administration. In Estate of Bilyk decided by Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez on March 7, 2016, the Bronx Public Administrator had been appointed to handle a decedent’s estate. The decedent’s daughter, one of the estate heirs, asked the Court to direct the Public Administrator to provide him with a copy of a real estate appraisal report regarding the estate property. The administrator opposed this demand and the Court agreed with the opposition. The Court found that the administrator had the sole authority to possess and sell the decedent’s realty and the decision as to its sale were within the administrator’s business judgment. The Court found that any complaints the daughter may have regarding the Public Administrator’s acts could be dealt with in an Accounting Proceeding.

There is a Public Administrator in each of the counties of New York City. If you have a question regarding an estate where the Public Administrator has contacted you or there is a problem concerning Kinship call me now for a free discussion. These matters can be complex and it is always important to obtain as much information as possible.

New York City probate lawyer, Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years throughout Kings and Nassau Counties resolve issues relating to estate litigation and settlement in New York Probate proceedings. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

Jules Martin Haas provides his clients and members of the community with a free monthly e-newsletter which contains articles covering a variety of legal topics including estate planning, financial matters and real estate. If you wish to be placed on the e-newslist, simply e-mail me at jules.haas@verizon.net. You can cancel receiving the newsletter at anytime.

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