Small Estates in New York State
A small estate is the estate of an individual
who dies leaving personal property having a
gross value of $30,000 or less. A voluntary
administrator is a person who qualifies and
undertakes to settle the estate of a decedent
without the formality of a full court
administration. Voluntary administration does
not apply to any interest in real property that
the decedent may own. However, ownership of real
property does not preclude the use of voluntary
administration to administer the personal
property. If the decedent dies without a Will
(referred to as “intestate”), the right to act
as voluntary administrator is given first to the
spouse and then, in order of preference, to an
adult child or grandchild, parent, brother or
sister, niece or nephew or aunt or uncle of the
decedent. If there be no such person to act,
then the law provides for various other persons
that may act.
If the decedent dies with a Will, the named
executor or alternate executor has the first
right to act as voluntary administrator.
However, the decedent’s Last Will and Testament
must be filed with the Surrogate’s Court upon
making the application for voluntary letters.
To be appointed voluntary administrator you must
file an "Affidavit in Relation to Settlement of
Estate Under Article 13" in the Surrogate’s
Court located in the county where the decedent
resided. You will also need to file an original
death certificate. If you are appointed
voluntary administrator, you would collect the
decedent’s assets, pay any debts or expenses and
distribute the balance to the beneficiaries of
the Will or to the distributees under the laws
of intestacy. Once you have fully distributed
the estate, you would file a "Report & Account
in Settlement of Pursuant to Article 13". Note,
some Small Estates under $5,000 may be settled
without any court filing.
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