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If the nominated Executor in your Last Will and Testament dies, then you should meet with an experienced estate planning attorney to review and possibly update your will to account for the loss. If you do not update your Will, then, upon your death, the court could appoint the successor executor(s) that are nominated in your will.
If you did not nominate a successor executor, or if the successor executor is not able or willing to serve as executor, then the court could appoint a fiduciary known as an “Administrator c.t.a.”.
The Administrator c.t.a. acts like an executor in that once appointed he or she is responsible for marshalling the estate assets, paying the administrative expenses and debts of the estate and administering the estate assets pursuant to the terms of the will.
New York State law states when Letters of Administration c.t.a. are issued by the appropriate Surrogate’s Court and to whom they can be issued.
According to the law, the persons who can be appointed include
- The sole beneficiary of the estate;
- A residuary beneficiary of the estate; or
- Other person(s) who are interested in the estate.
If the Court cannot appoint someone who is otherwise eligible to act as fiduciary, then it will then appoint the Public Administrator of the county where the decedent resided. The Public Administrator is a government official in each county who administers estates when there are no other authorized persons available to do so.
Even though the law clearly states the priority of who could serve as Administrator c.t.a., it is common for situations to arise where the pending appointment of an Administrator c.t.a. results in estate litigation in the Surrogate’s Court.
It is important to continuously update your estate plan to ensure that your wishes are honored and potential estate litigation is avoided.
We recommend that our clients meet with our experienced attorneys to review their estate plan upon the passing of an individual named in their will or trust.