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Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1007: Administration De Bonis Non

An estate administrator is the person appointed by the Surrogate’s Court to manage the estate of a deceased person and distribute his or her assets according to the laws of New York. Before a person who wishes to serve as estate administrator can do so, he or she must petition the court and the court must approve the appointment. When the court appoints an administrator the court will issue that person a document called “Letters of Administration” as legal proof of authority to manage the decedent’s estate. There are occasions when a administrator is unable to finish the job, leaving the estate without an administrator. This is referred to as “administration de bonis non”—the office of the administrator is vacant. In such a case, there are rules that must be followed to fill the vacant position. If you are involved in the administration of a decedent’s estate and have questions or concerns about the requirements of Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1007, Administration de bonis non, contact an experienced New York estate administration lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Related statutory provisions
  1. Eligibility to receive letters: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 707
  2. Order of priority for granting letters of administration: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1001
  3. Accounting by fiduciary of deceased fiduciary, committee of incompetent fiduciary, or conservator of conservatee fiduciary: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 2207
Administration de bonis non

Administration de bonis non refers to a situation where there are still assets in an estate after the death or removal of the estate administrator. The person who is appointed by the Surrogate’s Court to complete the administration process in such a situation is referred to as the administrator de bonis non. As a New York estate administration attorney will explain, there are specific rules that must be followed in such a situation:

  • Granting of letters. If the administrator passes away or ceases serving in that role for any reason, the court has the power to issue letters of administration do bonis non to another eligible person. However, the process for issuing such letters is the same as the process for issuing the original letters of administration. This means that the person seeking letters must submit a petition to the Surrogate’s Court, and the person must be eligible.
  • Bond. In some cases the court will require the administrator to post a bond. The amount of the bond is based on a variety of factors, but is typically tied to the value of the property in the estate. If former administrator had started the process of administering the estate and distributing assets, the court can require that the new administrator give a bond equal to at least the value of the assets remaining in the estate.
  • Refuse to issue letters. The Surrogate’s Court has the right to refuse to issue letters if asset distribution is possible under SCPA section 2207.
Eligibility requirements for letters

Where the petitioner is seeking to receive letters of administration or letters of administration do bonis non, the Surrogate’s Court will issue letters only to a person who is eligible. Under section 707 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, those who are ineligible include:

  • Infant. You must be at least 18 years old to receive letters. Anyone under 18 is considered an “infant” and ineligible.
  • Incompetent. You must be able to manage the affairs of the estate. If you have been adjudged to be incompetent, meaning you cannot handle your own affairs, you do not have the ability to handle the estate’s affairs.
  • Felon. You must not have been convicted of committing a felony. The position of an administrator is a position of trust. If you have been convicted of committing a felony, you are not eligible to serve as administrator.
  • Non-domiciliary alien. Under the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, a non-domiciliary would be ineligible to receive letters.
  • Otherwise unfit. The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act lists other reasons that a person would be ineligible to serve as administrator, including having substance abuse issues, being dishonest, or not being able to read or write English.

These factors are not exhaustive. If you have concerns about whether someone is fit to receive letters, contact an experienced estate administration attorney in New York.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1007. Administration de bonis non
  1. When the office of administrator becomes vacant for any reason the court may grant letters of administration de bonis non to one or more eligible persons and the proceedings to procure such letters shall be the same as upon an application for original letters of administration.
  2. Where the estate has been partially administered by the former fiduciary the court may fix the penalty of the bond in a sum not less than the value of the assets of the estate remaining unadministered.
  3. The court may refuse to issue letters of administration de bonis non where distribution of the estate is possible pursuant to the provisions of 2207.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

When an estate administrator passes away during the administration process, or is unable to complete the job for another reason, it is important that he or she is replaced as soon as possible. However, there is a process that must be followed. To ensure that the requirements are followed, contact an estate administration lawyer serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have years of experience successfully representing clients in complex estate matters, including matters related to the requirements of New York SCPA section 1007, Administration de bonis non, or any other estate or trust matter, contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Long Island, Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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