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The administrators guide to Letters of Administration in New York State

Obtaining a letter of administration is one of the first steps an administrator should take when probating a will in New York state.

Letters of administration new york

If you are an administrator living in New York and dealing with the beginning stages of probate, you might be feeling overwhelmed by the numerous and complex steps required for you to distribute the estate. To aid you in this endeavour, here is a quick guide on letters of administration in New York.

What is a letter of administration?

When a loved one in New York state passes away intestate (without a will) the New York Surrogate’s Court must appoint an administrator.

This appointment is validated in the form of a Letter of Administration (LOA), a mandate that sets out who the administrator is for the deceased's estate.

This letter enables the administrator to act on behalf of the estate and distribute its assets according to New York's intestacy laws.

How do you obtain a letter of administration in New York?

Assuming you are the person entitled to be appointed the administrator, you will need to file an application with the Surrogate’s Court. The application will include various documents, such as a Petition for Letter of Administration, which can be found here.

In addition to filing out those forms, you may also need to submit additional documentation, such as:

  • Death certificate of the decedent
  • Affidavit of Sole Heirship
  • Affidavit of Due Diligence
  • Other documents

How long does it take to be issued a letter of administration?

Assuming all the relevant documents have been filed, on average, it takes 3 to 6 weeks to receive a letter of administration in New York. If someone is contesting your right to administer the estate, this process could take years.

Due to some recent budget cuts and other delays, wait times have slightly increased.

Finally, you should take note that the court may altogether deny your application and instead appoint a public administrator to distribute the estate. This may happen due to a variety of reasons outside of your control.

Different types of letters of administration for different circumstances

Certain circumstances may require different forms of “letters” in New York.

As every estate is unique, so are the letters required to authorize their distribution. Below is a brief overview of the different letters that can be issued in New York depending on the circumstances you as the administrator find yourself in.

1. Limited letters of administration

Limited letters of administration are a type of authorization given by the Court that only allow for limited functions of the entitled administrator. Some of these functions include initiating a lawsuit or investigating the assets of the estate. These letters may be necessary if the following situations arise:

  • Investigation of the conversion or theft of the estate’s assets is warranted
  • The administrator desires to bring forth a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased
  • If someone wants to inquire as to whether all the estate’s assets have been placed in the hands of their respective fiduciaries.

To receive these letters, you will need to submit a petition with the Court with the reasons for your request, along with notifying all interested parties with supporting documentation. Note that a hearing may be held to determine the need for such a letter.

Furthermore, if a limited letter is granted, the Court will give priority to those beneficiaries that have a greater interest in the estate’s assets.

2. Temporary Letters of Administration

Temporary letters are those that are issued while a petition for a standard letter of administration is pending with the Surrogate's Court. These are typically issued when an immediate estate concern has arisen, or other urgent matters and they expire every six months.

The Court may also issue these if there is an expected delay in the issuance of the letter of administration that could cause issues with the estate itself, such as delays acquiring jurisdiction over parties, or if not all parties are signing documentation.

As these are issued by the court during the review of a letter of administration application, these can be issued as part of the standard application process—assuming there is an urgent need or some form of delay.

Otherwise, you will need to submit a Petition and other documentation to the court to apply as a Temporary Administrator.

3. Ancillary letters of administration

In situations where the decedent passes away in another state but leaves behind a property in the New York, the administrator requires ancillary letters to deal with the property of the decedent.

The administrator appointed in the external state through letters of administration will need to file a petition for ancillary letters of administration with the Surrogate's Court of NY. It is important to note that the administrator will need to file these documents in the county where the property is located.

Need help settling an intestate estate in New York?

Dealing with intestate estates in and of themselves can be extremely complex. Having to apply for a letter of administration is a very lengthy process. Professionals should manage this process to increase your chances of getting a desirable outcome.

ClearEstate can help.

We are estate professionals who specialize in settling estates in New York. With decades of combined experience in helping administrators obtain LOAs, we can get your peace of mind back. Contact us today!

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