When a person living or owning one or more assets or real estate in NYC dies leaving a will, that will must have to first be probated in a Surrogate’s Court in New York before the assets can be disposed or distributed to the beneficiaries. The executor of the will appointed by the decedent in the will will be responsible for initiating probate, and probate will only be done for an estate worth over $30,000. If not, a small estate administration will be done instead so long the estate meets the requirements of NY laws. Probate usually takes less than 10 months to handle but when issues arise, such as contest of wills, family members challenging the actions of the executor, probate usually becomes quite lengthy, costly, and complex. Probate lawyers NYC are specialized attorneys in New York, who offer personal guidance to executors and estate administrators in order to minimize the difficulties associated with probate.
As an executor, you’d want to have the legal guidance of a probate lawyer to effectively carry out your fiduciary duties.
Functions of a fiduciary in New York
An executor of a will is appointed by the decedent. If the will is invalid or there is no will at all, then it falls upon the NY probate court to appoint an executor. Executors, administrators and trustees are also called fiduciaries and the following are their functions:
- At the death of the testator, the executor should file a petition to the Surrogate’s Court to begin probate as soon as possible.
- The executor has the power of liquidating all estate assets of the decedent. He should consider hiring accounting professionals who will assist him in taking inventory of all estate assets and valuate them before liquidation.
- He should open a fresh bank account where all the liquidated funds will be kept.
- The executor should also work with a probate lawyer NYC and tax advisers in determining all estate taxes owed by the estate.
- He’ll have to collect all income, dividends and interests, etc., into the estate checking account he created.
- The executor will have to make important decisions regarding what to do with certain personal properties of the deceased. If there are specific bequests in the will concerning these properties, then he ought to act accordingly. If there are no specific bequests, then it’s his responsibility to decide if to pass them on to the beneficiaries, lease or sell them out. But in doing so, he has to act fairly in the best interests of the estate and beneficiaries so as not to cause unnecessary conflicts.
- He has to decide what to do with the residential house of the decedent, whether to sell or put in on lease, or make repairs. Whatever expenses incurred will be settled from the estate account, and whatever earnings realized from the sale of it will also go to the account. However, any tenants residing in the real estate of the deceased will have to evacuate as such estate will go to the beneficiary. While having the fiduciary authority to make these decisions, he has to consider not his own interests but what’s best for the beneficiaries and the estate itself. As this is a part of probate, the probate lawyers NYC have years of experience handling these matters in NY, and have come to know the most likely consequences of every decision or step taken. It is better, as an executor, that you consult a probate attorney.
- The executor have to put a notice out for all creditors of the estate. Creditors will come (even thieves) and it is left for the executor to determine if actually they are true creditors before payment is made. Here, the executor would also need to work with a probate attorney.
- Once all the following have been done successfully, the executor has to distribute the remaining estate property and funds from the account to the beneficiaries according to the dictates of the will or the intestacy laws of NY (if there is no valid will). In NY, an estate must remain open for 7 months before distribution is done.