"When Someone Dies"

When Someone Dies Weird Sh!t Can Happen

Weird Sh!t That Happens When Someone Dies

Greetings Friends, Colleagues, and Fellow Readers, 

As record temperatures sweep the nation, I thought you might enjoy this read about what happens when someone dies while waiting for your iced coffee or tea order.  We have all been there. One of the friends or relatives passes away. They didn’t have much in the way of assets – maybe just an apartment or a few accounts. It was supposed to be a simple probate process. And then – weird sh!t starts to happen .  

Let’s take a look at a few possibilities so you know what to do next time this happens to you.  (Let’s face it – if you are receiving this newsletter, this means you are one of my clients and this probably did happen, at least in part, to you but now you are stronger and know what to do!)

Apartment Gets Sealed When Someone Dies

If you live in an apartment, or if you’re a landlord at an apartment, you might have seen this big green sign on a door (image added below). 

"When Someone Dies"

The green sign indicates that unfortunately, the tenant inside has passed, and the police have sealed the apartment off. When someone dies inside the apartment and a relative cannot immediately be located or is not immediately in NY, the Police will 

  • seal the apartment. 
  • Take the contents on the person 

Once the apartment has been sealed, you now have the fun task of:

  • Unsealing the Apartment to search for a Will or Trust. (If you do the apartment search, certain counties are going to want to know what happened and if a Will was found.) No, you cannot just ask the police for a quick peek inside the apartment. You have to get an Order from Surrogate’s Court.
  • Getting the voucher from the Police precinct. Although the Police take the tangibles that are on the person, they do not always hold it in the precinct. Depending on the precinct, they may only hold it for 30 days. After 30 days, the Police will send the tangibles in a sealed pouch to 1 Police Plaza. You will then need to go to 1 Police Plaza to pick up the tangibles. 

PLEASE NOTE 1 Police Plaza will NOT give you the tangibles WITHOUT the voucher. And you can only get the voucher from the Police Precinct that took in the tangibles. So if you would like to avoid multiple trips to and from 1 Police Plaza, make sure you ask the Police precinct that sealed the apartment for ALL of the vouchers. 

Bank Seals the Safe Deposit Box When Someone Dies

  If we have spoken, then you know NOT to keep your Will in the Safe Deposit Box. In case you have forgotten, the reason you do NOT keep your Will in the box is because banks will seal the box after the death of a lessee (and no, it does not matter if you are a joint holder on the box because you do not actually OWN the box. You are just leasing it.)

You just learned that your dear Aunt Patty died and her Will is, you guessed it, in the Safe Deposit Box because that is where she kept it for the last 35 years.  The box is now sealed because your mom was so distraught that she immediately ran to the bank crying to make sure the box contents were still safe and told the bankers and branch manager (who have known Patty and been like family to her). The bank then sealed the box as is their protocol when someone dies. 

 Now you have to do a Search of the Safe Deposit Box Pursuant to SCPA 2001. This means, you need to do a Petition to search the box and then get an Order to search the box. You then have to open the box in the presence of a bank representative and see what is inside. 

PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT forget the Inventory from the bank representative. Without filing the inventory form, many Counties will NOT give you Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary. 

Executors Named in Will are All Dead When Someone Dies

  After you have found Patty’s Will that she kept in the box for the last 35 years, you learn that she has given away all her money, in $5,000 increments to 35 different charities and the rest to you. While you think to yourself, this is great because specific bequests mean I don’t have to wait for years for a No Objection letter from the Attorney General’s office, you then keep reading to find that the people Patty named as Executors have been dead for the last 10 years. 

After you are done shaking your head, you wonder, how are you going to probate this Will if all the Executors are dead?

If you are named as a residuary beneficiary, you can petition to serve as Administrator c.t.a (which is a fancy way of saying Administrator With the Will Annexed). If you qualify under SCPA 1418, then you can petition. 

PLEASE NOTE: you will have to provide the Court with some proof of death of the executor. If you do not have a copy of the Death Certificate, then you have to show the Court you undertook an exhaustive search to find proof of death.  And yes, if you do not have a copy of the Death Certificate of the predeceased executor, then a picture of the grave can sometimes work. 

Beneficiaries of the Will are Minor Children

No matter how many times I have said, you cannot leave assets directly to minor children, people still do it. (Not my clients of course. This is because they have watched the video. They listened to my rant so they create testamentary trusts). But others still do it. 

 In reading Patty’s Will, in addition to $5,000 to 35 different charities, you notice that she also leaves $2,750 dollars to every grandchild she has. And yes, there are a lot of them in and yes they are all under the age of 18. Guess what, You cannot give them their money until they turn 18. 

You now have the job of:

Telling their parents to petition to become guardians of their property, which, for a $2,750 is completely wasteful and inefficient

Holding the money until the grandchild turns 18, which means your duties as fiduciary are NEVER ENDING

Trying to set up and deposit the funds in an UTMA or UGMA account. 

Good luck! – Or – just tell everybody to either:

Have a provision in the Will that gives the money to the parents of the grandchild or set up a testamentary trust for minors.   

Will is Lost or Can’t Be Found

And finally – my favorite one – There WAS a Will, but now it’s lost. Sally, who is like an aunt to you, but really is not related to you, executed a Will with an attorney. She did not want to leave it with the lawyer. She also did not have a fireproof vault. 

According to sources, the Will was in her nightstand last time she looked at it a few months before she passed away but now it cannot be found. Without the Will, you get nothing. With the Will, you get everything?

Can you Probate a Copy?


Contact us to learn more about how to handles issues when somebody dies!

For more information, please contact NYC Probate Litigation, Guardianship, NYC Probate and Estate Planning attorney Regina Kiperman:

Phone: 917-261-4514
Fax: 929-556-2089
Email: rkiperman@rklawny.com

Or visit her at:
40 Wall Street
Suite 2508
New York, NY 10005

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This page is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

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