How do I Become an Executor or Administrator of an Estate?

In New York, after a person (known as a “decedent’) dies, another person may need to become the Executor or Administrator of the decedent’s estate. If the decedent had a Will and has assets that do not pass by operation of law, then the Will must be “probated” and an Executor must be appointed. Click here for more information about Probating a Will. If the decedent did not have a Will, then an Administrator must be appointed. Click here for more information about Administering an estate.

How long does it take to get a letter appointing you as Executor or Administrator?

To become appointed Executor or Administrator, you need to have standing to Petition. If there is a Will, then typically the nominated Executor, or successor Executor will file the Petition. If there are no executors willing and able to act, then a residuary beneficiary will file the Petition. In general, SCPA 1402 sets forth who has standing to Petition. If there is no Will, then SCPA 1001 governs who is eligible to petition and the priority of who may petition.

The petitioner has to gather the forms, the Death Certificate, the Will (if there is one), the necessary waivers and consents, or citation, and bring them all, to the Surrogate’s Court in the County in which the Decedent resided at death. Please Click here to read the Probate guide for more information on the necessary documents.

When all of the documents have been received by the Court, the Court will then issue Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. It can take up to one month for letters to issue. One of the most common reasons for a longer delay in the issuance of letters is when there is something missing. My general rule of thumb is if I have not received letters of a phone call within two weeks after filing, I will call and request a status update. Note that Queens County Surrogate’s Court does not give status updates over the phone.

If you are in a rush, then you may want to seek and file an Application for Preliminary Letters. Click here for more information about obtaining Preliminary Letters.

Is there a fee for filing a petition to become Executor or Administrator?

When you file the petition to become appointed either Executor or Administrator, you will have to pay a filing fee. The filing fee depends on the size of the estate. SCPA 2402 sets forth the filing fee.

2402(7) provides the following schedule of fees:

Less than $10,000 ………………………………… $ 45.00

10,000 but under 20,000 …………………………… 75.00

20,000 but under 50,000 …………………………… 215.00

50,000 but under 100,000 ………………………….. 280.00

100,000 but under 250,000 …………………………. 420.00

250,000 but under 500,000 …………………………. 625.00

500,000 and over …………………………………. 1,250.00

You do not need to know the exact value of the estate at the time that you file. It is sufficient to just provide an estimate. I caution my clients about writing down a value that is too low. Sometimes the Court will not allow you to collect more than a certain amount and you will then have to amend your letters to collect more money. For example, if you know that the estate is $300,000 but you list it as only being $99,000 because you do not want to pay the filing fee, then the Court may only allow you to collect up to $99,000 and then you will need to amend the petition to be able to file the rest. Amending the Petition will cost you more than the extra $200 filing fee. So, please, just provide your best estimate.

How much does an Executor or Administrator of an estate get paid in New York?

An Executor or Administrator gets paid a commission. The commissions schedule is set forth in SCPA 2307. In general: SCPA 2307 provides that commissions are calculated on the amount of property that is received and distributed by the executor. Specifically, Section 2307 states that executor’s commissions are calculated as follows:

(a) For receiving and paying out all sums of money not exceeding $100,000 at the rate of 5 percent.

(b) For receiving and paying out any additional sums not exceeding $200,000 at the rate of 4 percent.

(c) For receiving and paying out any additional sums not exceeding $700,000 at the rate of 3 percent.

(d) For receiving and paying out any additional sums not exceeding $4,000,000 at the rate of 2 ½ percent.

(e) For receiving and paying out all sums above $5,000,000 at the rate of 2 percent.

As a simple example, if an executor of an estate collects estate assets totaling $1,000,000 and distributes them in accordance with the Will, the executor will be entitled to collect commissions in the amount of $34,000, which is calculated as follows:

  • 5% of the first $100,000 = $5,000
  • 4% of the following $200,000 = $8,000
  • 3% of the following $700,000 = $21,000
  • $5,000 + $8,000 + $21,000 = $34,000

Click here for additional information on getting paid for serving as a fiduciary.

Can a felon be an Executor or Administrator of an estate in New York?

Not everybody is eligible to serve as an executor or administrator. SCPA 707 sets forth who is not eligible to receive letters. A felon is not eligible. However, if you are a felon, then you may be able to designate somebody else to serve in your place and stead.

We can assist you with becoming an Executor or an Administration of an estate. 

For more information, please contact probate and estate planning attorney Regina Kiperman:
Phone: 917-261-4514
Email: rkiperman@rklawny.com
Or visit her at her location:
80 Maiden Lane
Suite 304
New York, NY 10038

Visit Regina on Google+

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