New York Estate Administration Lawyer
When a person dies in New York, specialized courts in each county, known as Surrogate’s Courts, oversee the distribution of that person’s assets to the proper persons under New York law. The exact process used by the courts depends on the size of the estate and whether the person had a valid will in place or not. The New York estate administration lawyer of Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP is thoroughly familiar with all the different processes and has extensive experience in probate and estate administration in Ulster County and surrounding areas. If you are the executor of a will or administrator of an estate, count on our estate administration lawyer to guide you through the process of New York estate administration, to ensure you complete your duties successfully and fulfill the wishes of the deceased.
Types of Estate Administration in New York
- Probate – If the person left a will, the estate will be administered through probate. Probate is the court-supervised process used to prove the will valid and give effect to its terms, and to resolve any will contests or challenges that arise.
- Estate Administration – When a person dies without a will, the Surrogate’s Court will oversee a proceeding known as an administration. In an administration, the Surrogate’s Court will appoint a distributee and issue Letters of Administration giving that person the power to collect and distribute the deceased’s property in accordance with New York intestacy laws.
- Small Estate – Also known as voluntary administration, a small estate can be filed when the estate contains no real property and less than $30,000 of personal property. A small estate can be filed whether there is a will or not.
- No Administration – Sometimes estate administration can be avoided entirely. This can occur if the only asset of the deceased was real property, and this property was titled in such a way that it automatically goes to a surviving distributee.
Duties of an Estate Administrator
Notify Creditors and Heirs or Beneficiaries – Sometimes all the proper heirs can be easily identified, but other times it takes the skilled assistance of a lawyer or forensic genealogist to discover and track down all the heirs. In cases where the heirs are listed by class instead of by name, or where there is no will at all, the estate administrator will need to be especially careful not to incorrectly distribute estate proceeds.
Catalog and Value the Estate – It is the duty of the administrator to identify the deceased’s property, keep it safe, and determine its value, often with the help of a real estate appraiser or other expert in the case of valuable jewelry, art or other possessions.
Manage and Invest Assets – Until the estate is distributed, the administrator may be required to invest and manage funds prudently and competently to maximize the value of the estate and keep it from being diminished. Fulfilling this duty may require the help of a professional, such as an attorney, stockbroker or investment advisor.
File and Pay Taxes and Debts – If the deceased owed taxes or debts at the time of death, the estate administrator will need to ensure those debts and taxes are properly paid. Litigation is sometimes necessary to resolve disputed debts or other claims against the estate.
Locate Heirs and Distribute Assets – Once all heirs are located, which may require the help of a forensic genealogist, the estate can be distributed in accordance with the law of intestate succession, which determines who receives estate property and in what proportion.
Close Estate – After debts are paid and the property is distributed, and a final tax return is filed, the estate is considered closed, and the administrator is discharged from his or her duties.