March FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions – Estate Administration and Probate

What is an Executor?

The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, serving clients from Ridge and Huntington locations, answers frequently asked questions about New York probate and estate and trust administration in New York.

  • What is an executor and what are their duties?
  • Does the estate executor have to live in the same state as the decedent?
  • What if the executor spends all of the estate’s money?
  •  Do you need to be related to the decedent to serve as an executor in a New York estate matter?

What is an executor and what role do they play?

An Executor is a Fidiciary.
An executor may also be called an administrator or trustee, depending on the state or jurisdiction, but essentially has the same duty toward the estate. An executor for an individual’s estate plays an important role. Responsibilities include locating, securing and preparing assets for sale or transfer, accounting and closure of the estate and distribution of assets to  beneficiaries named in the will, trust or estate documents.

Does the executor of an estate have to live in the same state where the decedent lived and/or owned assets?

While some states require an executor to live in the state where the estate is held,  the State of New York does not require in-state residence. The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston represents many individuals who live in different states, but serve as executors, administrators and trustees with our assistance and legal guidance. In New York, if you are named in the will to serve as the executor and/or trustee, it does not matter where you live. However, if you are a convicted felon, you may not serve as an executor or administrator.

What if the executor spends all of the estate’s money?

It happens that an executor spends all the money of the estate. Some Fidiciary’s are negligent in their duties and some do steal.  There are procedures to safeguard the estate and its heirs, such as posting a bond, which functions as insurance against such acts. Ms. Lawston will take the appropriate steps to protect you.

Do you need to be related to the decedent to serve as an executor in a New York estate?

In some states, an executor can live in another state only if that individual meets certain familial requirements. For example, in Florida, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, executors who live in another state must be relatives of the deceased individual. This includes siblings, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces. Florida’s law specifically states that the spouse of a relative also qualifies as executor. In New York the executor does not need to be a blood relative of the deceased.

If you are named in the will and the decedent wants you to be the executor, and you live somewhere in New York, or elsewhere, that’s fine. You can serve and collect your executor’s commissions for your efforts.

With attorney Bonnie Lawston’s assistance, you do not ever have to come to New York to hire our firm and serve as the executor, administrator or trustee of the estate. Our firm handles everything for you, including working with you and the estate regarding legal fees and payment arrangements. We collect and safeguard all the estate’s assets, satisfy the debts and claims, provide accounting and proper releases for all parties involved and file all closing papers with the court. We also conduct any and all types of closings, such as the sale of real estate and businesses in furtherance of the estate and distribution of assets.

What is the difference between the Executor, Administrator or Fiduciary?

  • A Fidiciary is someone who has been appointed by the court to serve in a special capacity.
  • An Executor, Administrator, or trustee is a Fidiciary.
  • An Executor is the label used when there is a will.
  • An Administrator is the label used where there is no will
  • The word Fidiciary, Executor, and Administrator depending on the context used can be interchangeable.

Do you live in another state, other then New York and you are the heir or beneficiary to an Estate ?

Our office can represent you whether you live in New York, in another state or another country so long as the estate is based in New York or has at least one asset based in New York.   We represent many clients who do not know what is going on with the estate or what the value of the estate is and the fiduciary will not give them any information or accounting.  We will protect your rights, your inheritance, obtain all the necessary financial and other information that you are entitled to and need to maximize and ensure your inheritance. We will review the fiduciary’s actions to ensure that s/he has acted within and in accordance to all the applicable laws and maximize the Estate assets so that there is no harm to the Estate done by the fiduciary who may be stealing or negligent in his or her duties.

Contact an Experienced Estates and Trust Attorney

For further information about an estate or probate matter, contact The Law Offices of Bonnie Lawston online or call 24/7 at 631-425-7299 to schedule a free consultation today.