Upon the demise of a loved one it is often necessary to deal with the resolution of their estate if assets have not been transfered or placed into the types of ownership that passed automatically upon death such as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, payable upon death provisions or beneficiary payments based upon insurance or annuity contracts, for example.
If the deceased has passed without an estate the procedure for resolving their estate is known as “administration”. In New York State the provisions for administering small estates under $20,000 provides for a relatively straightforward mechanism to obtain Certificates from Surrogate Court to enable the opening of a bank account and the liquidation of assets to be distributed by a voluntary administrator, this procedure can be used when the deceased left a Will or if they died intestate, i.e. without a Last Will and Testamant.
Generally the procedure if someone left a Will is to undertake the probate procedure, which, in the majority of cases is a straightforward process. If waivers can be obtained from the intended heirs and by others who might have benefited from the Will the necessary petition and supporting papers can be prepared and filed in the appropriate county Surrogate Court in New York State (based upon the domicile at the time of death) without appearing on the Court’s calendar. In the case where their are persons under a disability or if individuals will not consent to the waiver the case may require the intervention of the Court, the appointment of the public administrator or other guardians ad litem and the contest of the Will may occur.
In most cases after a Will is admitted to probate the executor or executrix will be required to file accountings with the Court on a timely basis.