Role of the Executor

Your Role as an Executor, Administrator or Trustee

The words fiduciary, executor, and administrator, depending on the context used can be interchangeable. An administrator is the label used where there is no will.

The process of administering an estate with or without a will or trust, must take place in the state where the decedent lived at the time of death. You can serve your loved one and their estate no matter where you live. You do not have to reside in New York State.

Families who live outside New York often find themselves probating the estate of a loved one who lived in the State of New York or had assets in New York. There are also situations where the decedent and you may live in different states, but the decedent owned a home or other asset in New York, in which case, you will need to do an ancillary proceeding.

Traveling to NY to Settle an Estate is Not Necessary

You do not have to live in New York or travel to New York to carry out your responsibilities as the executor of a New York estate. You simply must hire a competent attorney to represent you as the fiduciary of an estate.

The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, with locations in Huntington Station and Ridge, regularly handles estate administration for clients no matter where they live. A large portion of our clients who are responsible for estate matters in New York reside in Florida and elsewhere. Other clients of ours have some contact with the New York Estate matter such as being an heir.

Legal Help to Carry out Your Fiduciary Obligations

When clients retain our legal services, they know we can collect, secure and maintain estate assets, prepare assets for sale or other transfer, and conduct the appropriate sales while reporting to the client at each step of the process. We make the process of interstate, across the country or out of the country communication easy, no matter how large or complex the estate or litigation matter is.

In your role as a fiduciary, which is another word for executor, (when a will is probated), administrator (appointment when there is no will) or trustee, can all be dealt with by phone, U.S. mail, online, iPhone, Skype, email, fax and scanning.

Our job as your attorney is to advise and assist you in your capacity as the representative for the estate and as such, we must answer to you, the estate and sometimes the court. The roles are very similar no matter which “hat ” you wear, and so long as you follow the laws, you will fulfill your duties and obligations. It is not as scary as it sounds. With the proper advice, which comes from our experience in probate, administration and litigation, we can simplify the process. We will do the work for you, making it easy to fulfill your obligations.

Attorney Bonnie Lawston will initiate the probate or administration proceeding, collect and inventory the assets of the estate, collect debts owed to the estate, resolve all debts and appropriate claims of the estate, obtain the necessary releases and distribute the assets to the heirs, and close the estate.

Our office handles estates of all sizes, from small estates that include a few bank accounts to multi-million dollar estates. We prepare all the documents to sell a house or business that belongs to the estate. If you hire our office, you do not need to hire another attorney to sell the house.


Ancillary Proceedings


Probate & Estate Administration (Will)


Inheritance Rights


Estate Administration & Trust Litigation


Out of State
client services


Intestacy Estate Proceedings (No Will)

Fiduciary Duties


As a fiduciary—you must via your attorney:
  • File the appropriate court proceeding in Surrogate’s Court
  • Marshal, inventory and protect all the assets, while maximizing the estate’s assets
  • Collect all debts owed to the estate
  • Pay all claims and valid debts of the estate in the appropriate order
  • Make the appropriate distributions
  • File the necessary accounting documents
  • Close the estate and file the appropriate tax forms


Comprehensive Estate Administration Services and Local Resources

When you retain our firm, we will provide the legal services to assist you with your duties as a fiduciary. With an experienced estate administration attorney at your side, carrying out your responsibilities becomes less stressful and less problematic.
  • Initiating probate or the estate administration process: We will prepare and file the necessary forms with the court to begin the process and obtain jurisdiction over all the parties concerned in order to obtain your appointment as the executor or administrator of the estate, including the appointment of trustees, guardian ad litem, opening the estate bank account and obtaining an estate tax identification number, just to name a few examples of our services.
  • Securing the home and possessions: We work with contractors who are on call to assist in securing the home and property. We contract with cleaners, real estate and construction professionals to prepare the house for sale, etc. We obtain estimates and supervise the work. We provide our clients with full documentation regarding the state of the property and personally oversee all work.
  • Appraisal of antiques and valuables: We will ensure valuables are placed in secure storage. We arrange for professional appraisals of antiques, art, coins, jewelry and collections.
  • Selling the home: We work with an experienced New York real estate broker to obtain maximum value for homes that are sold as part of the estate. We will prepare all the papers for the sale, and conduct the sale and transfer.
  • Addressing non-trust property: We assist trustees with implementing a pour over trust, and with probating assets that were not covered by a trust. We will also collect the non-probate assets and non-trust assets by filing the appropriate papers with the court.
  • Handling estate taxes: We work with an accountant who specializes in probate and estate taxes.
  • Closing the estate
By collaborating with other professionals and colleagues who are familiar with one another and with whom our firm has already built a relationship, the client benefits and the case has fewer problems, the estate administration process progresses more quickly and is overall less expensive and less work for the estate and client.

New York Legal Representation for Ancillary Proceedings

If a decedent owns property in New York, but lived in another state at the time of death, you must file an ancillary proceeding in New York in order to collect and distribute the asset for the estate. If you are aware of such property and do not file an ancillary proceeding, you could be negligent of your duties as a fiduciary in the primary estate proceeding and be removed for not doing your job and due diligence in collecting all assets.

If you are administering an estate and need to dispose of property in New York, our law firm can work directly with you or your probate attorney in the primary proceeding. When you seek our legal help, you will always deal directly with an attorney in our office, not a paralegal.

Call an Experienced NY Estate Administration & Litigation Attorney

The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston stands ready to assist you with a full range of estate administration and litigation matters. We understand that losing a loved one is stressful and upsetting. When retain our services, we make the legal aspects a little easier and less overwhelming. Let us help you navigate through the probate and estate administration process. Call our New York law firm at (631) 425-7299 to arrange a no cost, no obligation consultation.

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