When you do not have a will, upon your death you are considered to have died “intestate” and your estate will be administered by way of an administration proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court.  Just as with the probate process, the Surrogate’s Court located in the county you reside at the time of your death has jurisdiction over the estate.  In the administration proceeding, it is determined who, by law, has an interest in your estate, the interested individuals are given notice of the administration proceeding and have the opportunity to appear in court, an administrator is appointed to oversee the estate, the estate’s assets are distributed in accordance with the New York Estates Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL), and all debts of the estate are paid.

Similar to the probate proceeding, an administration proceeding is commenced by filing a petition for letters of administration.  We represent the person who petitions the court; that person is someone who has an interest in your estate and is asking to be appointed administrator of your estate (similar to the executor of an estate in a probate proceeding).

Once the Surrogate’s Court recognizes the case may be heard and all issues have been resolved, the Surrogate’s Court will issue an order granting letters of administration appointing the administrator.  The letters of administration give an administrator the authority to act on behalf of the estate.  The administrator ensures the decedent’s estate is distributed in accordance with the New York EPTL and any outstanding debts of the estate are settled and paid.

The process of petitioning the Surrogate’s Court for letters of administration is complex and overwhelming.  The administrator of the estate is the personal representative and fiduciary of the estate.  As the fiduciary, the administrator is responsible for ensuring the estate’s assets are properly distributed and debts are paid-off.  An administrator could face personal liability in the event an error occurs.  For these reasons, it is absolutely important that you, as an administrator, are represented by an attorney.

As your attorney, we will work closely with you and the Surrogate’s Court in the following:

  • Determining the distributees, creditors, and any other interested parties
  • Identifying the decedent’s assets and property
  • Properly completing all documents required by the Surrogate’s Court, including, the administration petition, inventory of assets, family tree affidavits, and accounting
  • Paying debts
  • Distributing property

We will guide you through the complex and detail oriented process that begins with filing the petition and ends with the Surrogate’s Court order closing out the estate.

The attorneys at James G. Dibbini & Associates, P.C. have over 20 years of experience in Wills, Trusts & Estates.

In order to learn more about administration of an estate or if you have any other questions about Wills, Trusts & Estates, please feel free to contact us directly.