When a family member dies, whether it is expected or not, there is always a period of confusion and uncertainty about what needs to be done. When some of the dust has settled, you might realize that there is no will, despite there being property and assets that need to be distributed. In New York, when a person dies without a will, the court will take over and decide who gets what according to the state’s inheritance laws. The first step will be for the court to appoint an estate administrator. If you are the deceased’s next of kin or are in line to inherit from the estate, you may be named an estate administrator. We explain how that works.
How an Administrator Is Chosen
The court will choose an administrator according to the same rules it uses to distribute assets if there is no will. The court will look to appoint the next of kin in the following order:
- Surviving spouse
- Father or mother
- Brothers or sisters
If there are no survivors in these categories, more distant relatives will be considered, but may need to provide proof of kinship. It is possible that more than one person has the same standing, or that someone with a claim to the estate opposes the person who has priority for the appointment. If you find yourself in one of these situations, you will need to file a petition for administration of the estate with the Surrogate's Court in the county in which your family member died. The probate and estate administration attorneys at Landskind & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C. can represent you in your application to be the estate administrator.
Duties of an Estate Administrator
The administrator of an estate with no will has the same duties as an executor of an estate with a will. Those duties include the following:
- Collect assets
- File an inventory of assets
- Open an estate bank account
- File tax returns
- Pay estate debts
- Distribute assets
- Close the estate
For the average person, these tasks can be overwhelming. When mistakes are made, they can be costly to the administrator as well as to other heirs and beneficiaries. If you are the administrator of an estate, you can make your job easier by getting the help of an experienced estate administration attorney.
Call Our Brooklyn Office to Learn More
Whether there is a dispute over the appointment of an administrator, or there is no conflict and you simply want help with your duties as an administrator, the legal team at Landskind & Ricaforte, P.C., are here for you. Call our office to get more information today.