In New York State, the administration of a decedent’s (deceased person) estate comes under the jurisdiction of Surrogate’s Court. There are specific rules which must be followed by any fiduciary who is appointed to administer an estate.
The term fiduciary refers generally to an executor, administrator, trustee or guardian.. Where the decedent leaves a Will (dies “testate”), the proceeding is called a probate proceeding. An Executor is the person named in a will to administer an estate. If the decedent leaves no Will (dies “intestate”), the proceeding is called an administration proceeding, and the court appoints an Administrator according to the rules of intestacy who performs duties similar to those of an executor.
A fiduciary may administer an estate as a layman without being represented by an attorney. This information is covers only the basic mandates of the Court and may not explain the specific circumstances which arise in each estate.
In both probate proceedings and administration proceedings, a fiduciary is responsible for the prompt, efficient and impartial administration of the decedent's estate. The assets of the decedent's estate must be collected and the debts and obligations of the decedent must be paid if there are sufficient funds in the estate. The estate assets must remain in New York State (i.e. estate checking account, etc.) The fiduciary must also comply with strict requirements for notifying persons who have a legal interest in the estate of any matters which may affect those interests. It is the responsibility of the executor or administrator to manage the estate carefully.
The decedent's estate includes any real or personal property which was owned by the decedent alone. Real property refers to land or anything attached to it. Personal property is any property other than real estate, such as bank accounts, stocks, insurance policies, etc. There are certain types of property ownership which provide for the transfer of title outside of the probate court jurisdiction. Property owned by a deceased person jointly (with the right of survivorship) or as tenants by the entirety passes directly to the surviving owner and is not a probate asset. The fiduciary should consult an attorney if there is any doubt about including specific property in the estate.
The court requires the completion of a series forms for probate, each set of forth varying as the specifics of the Estate varies. The required forms may include an application, petition, notices, waivers, renunciations, Inventory, court report, accounting, and more.
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