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Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1303: Persons Who May Become a Voluntary Administrator

An administrator is a general term that can be used to describe the person who is charged with the responsibility of settling the estate of a deceased individual and ultimately transferring his or her assets to others. Depending on the specifics of each case, there are different types of administrators. In the case of a testate (with a will) decedent, the administrator is called an executor, while in the case of an intestate (without a will) decedent, the administrator is called an estate administrator. There is also a special type of administration process for small estates, called small estate administration or voluntary administration. The administrator is called a voluntary administrator. In order to serve as any type of administrator, you must have the right to do so, and you must qualify. To learn more about the rules related to the administration of small estates, including the requirements of requirements of serving as a voluntary administrator as described in Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1303, Persons who may become a voluntary administrator, contact an experienced probate lawyer serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Related statutory provisions
  1. Kinds of property: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1302
  2. Summary procedure: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1304
Small estate administration

In order to qualify for small estate administration, the estate must have a value of less than $30,000 in personal property, not including real estate. Real estate does not qualify for the small estate process. However, the small estate process can be used for the administration of the decedent’s personal property if it qualifies, while the real property would be subject to the traditional probate administration process.

Just like with a probate proceeding, or an estate administration proceeding, someone must be appointed by the Surrogate’s Court as administrator to manage the process. The person is referred to as a voluntary administrator. If there is a will, the Surrogate’s Court will appoint the person named in the will as executor to serve as voluntary administrator. However, as an experienced New York probate attorney will explain, in the absence of a will, the decedent’s closest heir would be appointed voluntary administrator.

The procedure for taking advantage of the small estate process is to file an “Affidavit of Voluntary Administration.” The affidavit, along with the will (if any) and a certified copy of the death certificate must be filed at the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of his or her death. There is a filing fee.

Information needed to file the affidavit

Only specific people have the right to as a voluntary administrator, including:

  • Intestate decedent: In order of priority, those entitled to serve as administrator include the surviving spouse; adult child, grandchild, parent, brother, sister, niece or nephew or aunt or uncle of the decedent; guardian of the property of a distributee who is a minor child, the committee of the property of any incompetent person, or the conservator of the property of a conservatee who is a distributee; public administrator; or chief fiscal officer of the county.
  • Testate decedent: Those entitled to serve as administrator include the named executor or alternate executor. f the named executor or alternate executor chooses not to serve or is not qualified to serve, then any adult person who would be entitled to petition for letters of administration with will annexed under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1418. Letters of administration with will annexed;  when and to whom granted.

If you have question related to whether or not you qualify to serve as a voluntary administrator of a loved one’s estate, contact an experienced New York probate attorney.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1303. Persons who may become a voluntary administrator
  1. If the deceased dies intestate, the right to act as a voluntary administrator is hereby given first to the surviving adult spouse, if any, of the decedent and if there be none or if the spouse renounce, then in order to a competent adult who is a child or grandchild, parent, brother or sister, niece or nephew or aunt or uncle of the decedent, or if there be no such person who will act, then to the guardian of the property of an infant, the committee of the property of any incompetent person or the conservator of the property of a conservatee who is a distributee and if none of the foregoing named persons will act or if there are no known distributees within the categories listed above, then to the chief fiscal officer of the county except in those counties in which a public administrator has been appointed under articles eleven and twelve of this act.  After the surviving spouse, the first distributee within the class of persons entitled or if no distributee will act or there are no known distributees within the class of persons entitled, then the chief fiscal officer of the county as above who makes and files the required affidavit, is authorized to act as voluntary administrator, or as successor voluntary administrator in the event of the death or resignation of the voluntary administrator before the completion of the settlement of the estate.
  2. If the deceased dies testate, the named executor or alternate executor shall have the first right to act as voluntary administrator, upon filing the last will and testament with the surrogate's court.  If the named executor or alternate executor renounces or fails to qualify by filing the required affidavit within thirty days after the last will and testament has been filed in the surrogate's court, then any adult person who would be entitled to petition for letters of administration with will annexed under section 1418 of this chapter may file the required affidavit and have the right to act as voluntary administrator.
  3. No person other than one hereinbefore mentioned can become a voluntary administrator.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

For over two decades the probate attorneys in New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have successfully represented clients in matters related to probate and estate administration before the New York Surrogate’s Court. If you have concerns related to estate administration, including questions related to voluntary administration such as the requirements of New York SPCA section 1303, Persons who may become a voluntary administrator, 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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