Beneficiaries of a New York estate are persons who receive the benefit of the decedent’s assets after the decedent passes away in accordance with the decedent’s will or under the New York intestate laws. Beneficiaries may be heirs and family members, but they can also be unrelated persons such as friends or employees or entities such as charities that a decedent chooses to leave their assets to after their death. A beneficiary may also act as the executor or administrator of a New York decedent’s estate.
The estate assets are managed by an executor chosen by the testator/decedent and named in the decedent’s will, or a court-appointed administrator if the decedent died without a will, on behalf of the beneficiaries. Typically, an executor is a surviving spouse or child of the decedent. Larger estates may have a third party such as an attorney or financial institution acting as the executor or administrator of the estate. Two beneficiaries may be appointed by the testator/decedent as well. The will may provide that they have equal responsibilities, or they may be designated different responsibilities depending on the size and amount of the estate.
Rights of the Beneficiaries
The beneficiaries are notified by the personal representative of the decedent’s death, and there is typically a reading of the will so that the beneficiaries are aware of their inheritances. The beneficiaries are entitled to view accountings and other financial information during the course of the administration of the decedent’s estate by making a written request to the personal representative. The personal representative should also be communicating with the beneficiaries on a regular basis so that all parties are informed of estate matters. It is up to the personal representative to make final decisions about estate matters after consulting with the beneficiaries.
Handling of Disputes
Sometimes it is necessary for both the beneficiaries and the personal representative to hire their own NYC probate and estate attorneys to represent their interests in an estate, especially when disputes arise between the parties. A New York City probate and estate attorney can attend court hearings and help settle disputes among the beneficiaries and the personal representative as well as assist with other estate matters. When the parties are unable to come to a resolution, sometimes it is necessary for a litigation matter to be filed with the New York Surrogate’s Court. The Court will then decide the matter.
How Assets are Distributed to Beneficiaries
Once an inventory of all the assets have been made by the personal representative, assets have been sold or liquidated, debts, claims and estate taxes have been paid, the personal representative distributes the assets to the beneficiaries. The estate is then wound up and closed. The average time it takes to wind up an estate in New York City is about 9 months, but it can take longer depending on how large the estate is and the type of assets involved. Some estates take more than a year to finalize. It is common for the estate to hire an NYC probate and estate attorney to help the personal representative with the management and closing of the estate to make sure that the estate matters are handled in accordance with New York probate laws and the beneficiary’s interests are protected.
If you are a beneficiary of a New York estate or need assistance with an estate matter, it is recommended that you consult with a New York City probate and estate lawyer. We can represent estates, personal representatives, beneficiaries, creditors and other interested parties to an estate.
If you wish to speak to a New York City estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.