Understanding New York Estate Administration

Any type of legal matter should be handled by an experienced attorney, especially estate planning. After all, estate planning is about the legacy you leave behind to your loved ones. In the event that you need help probating a will in New York, you should familiarize yourself with the State’s administration and probate basics. By having a general understanding of how the process works you will be better prepared when you meet with your estate planning attorney.

Some basics

Unless you are an attorney or have already been involved in estate planning, many of the legal terms used in the process may be confusing for you. First, you should know that when we talk about an “estate,” we are discussing a legal entity that holds the assets, rights and obligations of a deceased person.

Additionally, you should be aware that probate is the process by which the NY Surrogate court validates a last will and testament. In many cases, people try to avoid probate to save time and money and to maintain privacy. Should no will exist, the descendant’s estate will be disposed of through administration proceedings following state intestacy laws.

Administration proceedings

When you die in New York without a will, the State must appoint an administrator to handle the distribution of your estate. According to N.Y.

statute, an administrator is chosen in the following order:

  1. The spouse of the deceased;
  2. If no spouse exists, then it passes to the decedent‘s children;
  3. If the descendent has no children, then it passes to decedent’s mother/father;
  4. Should the descendent have no surviving parents, the decedent’s sisters or brothers are next in line;
  5. The grandparents may be appointed if none of the above individuals exist.

If more than one person is eligible, they must settle the dispute and choose an administrator. Any disputes that remain unsettled will be handled by the Surrogates court. It is important to understand that the administrator has many responsibilities including, but not limited to:

  • Locating and gathering all estate assets;
  • Opening an estate account;
  • Managing estate assets;
  • Acquiring an estate identification number from the IRS;
  • Paying any estate taxes that might be due;
  • Paying any debts owed by the decedent;
  • Distribution of the remaining estate assets.

Like all areas of law, estate planning can become very complicated very fast. For experienced guidance with an estate planning matter in New York or Union or Hunterdon counties of New Jersey, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com or call 908-236-6457 today.

What are Your Responsibilities as an Estate Administrator in New York State?

Testamentary-Capacity

Contrary to what you may have heard, an administrator is not the same as an executor. An executor is a person named in a will to carry out the descendant’s last wishes. The job of the administrator, on the other hand, is to ensure the estate of the descendant is processed in accordance with the state’s intestacy laws. In addition, an administrator is appointed by the Surrogate Court in the event that no will exists.

If you are appointed administrator of an estate in New York, your first move should be to contact your attorney. Your lawyer can explain the process and guide you through the necessary steps. Following is a basic checklist of tasks you’ll want to take care of immediately:

  1. Identify and list out the decedent’s assets.
  2. Contact financial institutions and notify them of the death and that you have been appointed administrator of the estate.
  3. Have real and personal property, including furniture, jewelry, art, collectibles, automobiles, etc., professionally appraised.
  4. Open an estate checking account.
  5. Find out if there are creditors of the estate and if their claims are valid. If their claims are valid, consult with your lawyer on how to proceed.
  6. Pay off all estate expenses including court fees, appraisal costs, funeral expenses, attorney fees, etc.
  7. Create a journal and record all financial transactions related to the administration of the estate.
  8. If required, be sure to have the decedent’s last income tax return and estate income tax returns organized and filed.
  9. Distribute the balance of estate funds to the surviving beneficiaries.

It is important to remember that you are appointed by the court and you should take your responsibilities as an estate administrator seriously. If state or federal taxes are owed on the estate, be sure to file them correctly and on time. A failure to do so may result in penalties against you.

Recently appointed executor/administrator of an estate in NY or New Jersey? Without proper legal guidance, you could find yourself in over your head. An experienced estate planning lawyer can assist you in obtaining and filling out paper work, understanding the probate process and creating an estate plan of your own. For estate planning help in Union and Hunterdon Counties, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com or call 908-236-6457 today.

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