Choosing an Executor
A New York State Executor is appointed by the Surrogate’s Court. Typically, the Executor is named in the decedent’s Will and is appointed by the Court when the Will is admitted to probate.
The Executor’s job is to collect the decedent’s assets, wind-up the decedent’s affairs, pay all taxes, debts and claims and, finally, distribute the net estate in accordance with the directions in the Will. While this may appear straightforward, there are many complexities involved in each estate and an Executor in New York has many legal responsibilities regarding the settling of a decedent’s estate.
When preparing an Estate Plan, a person should select an Executor whom they are confident will carry out the provisions in the Last Will and advance the creators intentions regarding estate beneficiaries. The Executor is appointed after the Will is admitted to Probate. In the absence of a Will, the Court appoints an Administrator to settle a decedent's estate.
Probate is the court process by which a Last Will is validated by the Court. After a Will is admitted to probate, the Court issues Letters Testamentary to the appointed Executor. This is the certificate that is given to banks and other third parties which shows that the Executor is authorized to act on behalf of the estate. When a person dies intestate, Letters of Administration are issued to the Administrator. An Administrator is selected according to the provisions that are contained in New York Surrogate's Court Procedure Act Section 1001. This statute provides the list of persons who have priority to being appointed as Administrator beginning with a surviving spouse, and then children, and grandchildren and moving downward to more distant relatives.
Both an Executor and Administrator have a great deal of authority and responsibility regarding the administration of an estate. They may be personally responsible if the estate suffers losses or damage. As estate fiduciaries, they have duties of fair dealing regarding beneficiaries and they cannot take advantage of estate assets or situations for their personal benefit. When an Executor or Administrator or a Trustee acts improperly he may be found to have breached his fiduciary duties. Many types of proceedings in Surrogate's Court concern situations regarding a breach of fiduciary responsibility.
When a fiduciary is ready to conclude the administration of an estate or trust, an Accounting of all transactions is prepared and provided to the beneficiaries for approval. If there are objections to the accounting, the matter can be resolved by the Court.
I am an attorney and have represented many New York Executors in probate proceedings. I assist my clients with all aspects of probate and estate settlement services. I work closely and personally with executors in New York State to probate and settle an estate efficiently and quickly.
For personalized attentive service and a free case evaluation you can contact me by telephone: (212) 355-2575, fax: (212) 751-5911 or fill out my contact form. I look forward to talking with you.