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What are the Duties of a New York Executor?

A New York executor is named by a testator at the time a will is made and executed. The executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes and intent of the testator and must do so by acting in good faith and by representing the best interests of the beneficiaries at all times during the probate administration of the estate and winding up and closing of an estate.

When choosing a New York executor, the testator should keep in mind qualities such as experience, ability to handle and manage business matters, competency and availability.  The testator may appoint a spouse, other family member, friend, attorney or any other person over the age of 18 years of age to act as the executor. It is also common for a testator to appoint a co-executor or successor as well.

The New York Executor’s Responsibilities

A New York executor can initiate the filing of a Probate proceeding with the New York Surrogate’s Court by filing the original will and death certificate with the court and is responsible for obtaining and filing any other necessary documentation that the Court may require. A New York executor’s duties vary and may include the following:

  • Managing the estate assets including bank accounts, stock, bonds, retirement accounts, pensions
  • Taking inventory of assets, including personal and real property
  • Investing assets
  • Selling personal and real property
  • Distributing assets
  • Paying creditors and other claims including funeral expenses and any estate taxes that may be due out of estate assets
  • Contacting an employer to find out about the testator’s employee benefits
  • Managing the testator’s business
  • Making accountings
  • Communicate with the beneficiaries on a regular basis to keep them informed of important financial matters
  • Resolving disputes that may arise between beneficiaries
  • Winding up and settling the estate

There are all sorts of other contractual or legal matters that may require a New York executor’s attention. For instance, if the testator owned commercial property and had tenants, the executor may have to collect rents, work with a property management company or hire one depending on the size of building and the number of tenants. The executor may have to work with attorneys and accountants in order to make sure assets are properly valued and contractual obligations are completed.

In New York, an executor is entitled to receive compensation for his or her services in accordance with New York Laws. When a spouse or family member acts as executor, many times they do not take compensation for their services, especially when they are also a beneficiary receiving a distribution of assets under the will.

Fiduciary Duty of a New York Executor

An executor is held a higher standard of behavior and is expected to act in an honest, fair and ethical manner. If a New York executor breaches their fiduciary duty, the executor could be held legally liable for any losses suffered by the estate or beneficiaries. An executor in New York can be removed by the beneficiaries for breach of fiduciary duty and could be subject to restitution of any financial losses to the estate and beneficiaries, as well as face criminal charges if the executor committed any crimes such as embezzlement of estate assets.

Acting an executor is a big responsibility, especially if an estate is large and has substantial assets. That is why some spouses or family members decide they do not want to take on the job, and end up resigning and hiring an attorney or other personal representative to replace them and administer the estate.

If you wish to speak to hire a New York estate attorney to assist you with your duties as executor, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.