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Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1415: Supplementary Letters, Executors Not Named in Letters Not to Act

There are several goals that can be accomplished in a will, including naming the executor. An executor is the individual who the testator names in the will to have the responsibility of managing, administering, and distributing a testator’s estate based on the terms of the will. Before the executor has the legal authority to proceed with his or her administration duties, the Surrogate’s Court must formally appoint him and issue letters of administration. If the person is the ineligible to serve, the court will not issue letters and will appoint someone else. To learn more about the rules related to the appointment of an executor, including the requirements of Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1415, Supplementary letters, executors not named in letters not to act, contact an experienced probate lawyer serving New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Related statutory provisions
  1. Preliminary letters testamentary: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1412
  2. Revocation of letters upon proof of will: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1413
  3. When letters testamentary may be issued: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 1414
Requirements to serve as executor

Under New York law, in order to serve as an executor the person must be qualified. The Surrogate’s Court will not issue letters testamentary to a person who was nominated to serve as executor in a decedent’s will if that person is not qualified. Those who would be ineligible to serve include:

  • Minors. You must be at least 18 years old
  • Incompetents
  • Convicted felons
  • Those who are dishonest, have substance abuse problems, are negligent, or who are otherwise unfit to serve
  • Non-domiciliary aliens
Supplementary letters, executors not named in letters not to act

There are instances in which a person who is not qualified due to age or being a non-citizen later becomes qualified. Under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1415. Supplementary letters, executors not named in letters not to act, if administration is not complete, such a person would have the right to petition the court for letters so that he or she can join in the complete of the administration responsibilities.

Responsibilities of an executor

As an experienced New York probate attorney will explain, one of the reasons that the law has strict requirements related to who is permitted to serve as an executor is that enormous responsibility of the job, including managing the finances of the decedent’s estate.

  • Inventory estate. One of the first jobs of the executor once he or she is issued letters testamentary is to inventory the estate. The executor must determine which property is part of the decedent’s probate estate and determine its value. The executor must also secure the property. For example, if the property includes a house, the executor must take steps to make sure it is locked so that no one can enter it and take its contents, or vandalize the property.
  • Pay estate debts. The executor must also pay the debts of the estate. Such debts may include bills that the decedent owed at the time of his or her debts, bills related to maintaining the property during administration, and federal and local taxes owed by the decedent or the estate. If there are claims against the estate, the executor must defend the estate and pay only claims that are proven to be valid.
  • Distribute assets. One of the final responsibilities of the executor is to distribute estate assets to beneficiaries named in the will. This would involve transferring title of property to the beneficiaries.

As an experienced probate attorney in New York will explain, the administration of an estate is often complicated by unexpected problems. For example, an unhappy relative may file an objection to the probate of a will, alleging that the will was forged, it was improperly executed, that there was undue influence, or that there was coercion. Another complication may involve disagreements among beneficiaries, or challenges to the actions of the executor. If a beneficiary is hard to find, or has passed away, there may be complications related to distributing assets that were left to that beneficiary.

The person serving as executor must also understand that estate administration can take a long time. In New York it typically takes at least 7 months. Any complications during the process can extend administration. It is not unusual for administration to take well over a year.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1415. Supplementary letters, executors not named in letters not to act

If the disability of an infant or an alien named as an executor in a will be removed before the administration of the estate is completed he shall be entitled on petition showing the facts to supplementary letters testamentary to be issued in the same manner as the original letters to join in the completion of the administration of the estate with the person or persons previously appointed.  A person named in a will as executor shall be deemed to be superseded by the issue to another person of letters testamentary and shall have no power or authority as executor until he appears and qualifies and letters testamentary are issued to him.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

For over two decades the New York probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have successfully represented clients in matters related to probate, estate administration, and estate litigation before the New York Surrogate’s Court. If you are an interested party such as an executor, beneficiary, heir, or fiduciary in an matter related to the requirements of New York SPCA section 1415, Supplementary letters, executors not named in letters not to act, or any other will, 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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