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New York Letters of Administration

New York Letters of Administration is an official name for document issued by the Surrogate’s Court which permits a person to act on behalf of an estate of a person who died without leaving a will.

Here is a redacted picture of  Letters of Administration obtained by our law firm:

Letters of Administration authorize a person to act as a representative of an estate. They allow a person to perform responsibilities of an estate. Here are some of the things a person can do once they are appointed as an administrator of an estate by Letters of Administration issued by the Surrogate’s Court:

  • Obtain a tax id number for an estate from the federal government
  • Open an estate bank account
  • Request information from banks and other institutions that control the decedent’s assets. The banks will comply if you show them the Letters of Administration and the death certificate
  • Transfer assets from the decedent’s name to the name of the estate
  • Pay debts of the decedent
  • Collect claims of the decedent
  • Marshal assets of the estate
  • Distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries of the estate,after obtaining proper waivers or providing an accounting

Those things would be impossible to do without New York Letters of Administration. The banks will not give you information and will not transfer the assets, the county recorder will not record property deeds, and a buyer will not buy a property from you.

You often need more than one, since each bank and government agency would require an original. Also, some institutions require a more official looking document. This is why the court can also issue a Certificate of Appointment of Administrator, which is printed on a watermarked blue paper, and looks similar to a death certificate, birth certificate or marriage certificate.

Here is a redacted picture of a Certificate of Appointment of Administrator obtained by our law firm:

Even if the decedent died in a different state, and you have Letters of Administration from that state, you will still need to obtain separate Letters of Administration in New York, by verifying out-of-state Letters of Administration through a New York ancillary administration proceeding.

Letters of administration are issued when a person died without a will, to a person who applies and is appointed by the court as the administrator of a deceased person’s estate. A person can only be an administrator if they are related to the person who died. The spouse of the decedent gets a preference, followed by children, grandchildren, other descendants, parents, siblings, etc.

If a person died and no one stepped forward to be the administrator of their estate, then Letters of Administration will be issued to the Public Administrator of the county where the decedent lived.

If the person who died left a will, then the document will be similar and with similar powers, but it will be called “Letters Testamentary,” and the Certificate will be called “Certificate of the Appointment of Executor.”

If you need assistance from a New York attorney in obtaining letters of administration, you can call me, Albert Goodwin, Esq., at  (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.

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