While the many estates get settled with little in the way of court involvement, there are some instances where interested parties to an estate, such as a creditor or a beneficiary, must take action against the fiduciary (i.e. the executor or administrator) in order to assure that their rights will be protected. SCPA 2102 contains a relatively unrelated, but full, list of the various types of cases that could be causes of action against a fiduciary, from paying funeral expenses to forcing an accounting. All of these actions involve different types of parties and, therefore, different evidence and legal arguments. For this reason, before venturing into the territory of forcing an action against a fiduciary alone, you should make sure you have an experienced New York estate attorney on your side.
SCPA 2102 dictates what kinds of causes of action can be taken against a fiduciary in special proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court. These cause of action for relief against a fiduciary include the following:
1. Forcing the fiduciary to provide information on or an accounting of estate property,
2. Forcing the fiduciary to turn over property that a spouse or child of the decedent is legally entitled to,
3. Forcing the fiduciary to pay funeral expenses,
4. Forcing the fiduciary to pay out a specific claim, gift or other inheritance owed by the estate,
5. Forcing the fiduciary to make an advance payment from the estate,
6. Actions when two or more fiduciaries to an estate cannot agree on how to act in an estate matter,
7. Forcing the fiduciary to pay interest on estate assets.
Each of these reasons to bring an SCPA 2102 action are quite different from one another and, therefore, may have different interested parties and different legal precedent when it comes to what kind of relief can be granted. For example, payment of funeral expenses can either be to the funeral home itself for outstanding bills or to someone who paid for the funeral. Since funeral expenses have a high priority when it comes to bill payment, the fiduciary may have to produce evidence that higher priority debts make paying funeral expenses impossible. Another example would be making an advance payment from the estate, something that may be required by a widowed spouse or minor children to live comfortably in the time it takes for the estate to be settled. This may require proof that an advance is necessary while other legal matters are being dealt with or that it would not take proper payouts out of the hands of creditors.
Whatever side you are on when it comes to having to take action against a fiduciary in an SCPA 2102 proceeding, it is litigation that you should not go into alone. Hiring a New York estate attorney will help protect your rights when it comes to the estate and the fiduciary and will make sure that your SCPA 2102 proceeding goes as smoothly as possible. Call Albert Goodwin, Esq. at (212) 233-1233.