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ESTATE ADMINISTRATION

ADMINISTRATION OF DECEDENT's ESTATE

BASIC PROCEDURE

The prospective Executor (if there is a Last Will and Testament) or prospective Administrator (if no Will) signs the petition prepared by the estate's attorney to the Surrogate's Court seeking to be appointed as the estate's fiduciary.

NOTICES

Formal notices (Citations) are sent to certain relatives of the decedent to notify them that an estate proceeding is before the Surrogate's Court, so that if they have any objection they have an opportunity to be heard in court.

AFFIDAVITS OF ATTESTING WITNESSES TO THE WILL

Also sent to the court are the affidavits of the attesting witnesses to the Will and other documents that the Surrogate's Court requests in particular situations.

GUARDIAN OR TRUSTEE REQUEST

In some cases there is also a request to the Court to appoint a Guardian for a minor child or a Trustee for a minor child or for an adult person who cannot handle money.

COURT APPOINTMENT OF FIDUCIARY

The Court reviews the documents and when satisfied with them, appoints the Executor or Administrator to have the authority to take over the estate.

THE WORK OF THE FIDUCIARY

The fiduciary then gathers the assets, pays the estate expenses and decedent's debts and taxes, and distributes the balance to the beneficiaries of the estate.  Sometimes this includes the transfer of title to a house. 

In some cases there is also an ancillary probate proceeding in another state where there is real property.

FINAL ACCOUNT

When the fiduciary has finished the work, he or she prepares a final account and it is reviewed by the beneficiaries.  Sometimes the beneficiaries agree to it; in some cases they do not, in which event there is a formal Court proceeding to determine the proper expenses of the estate and make an order to that effect.

For doing all this, the fiduciary is usually paid a commission.