If you are trying to figure out how to object to an appointment of an administrator in New York estate, the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, Section 711 is a good place to start. It provides a wide range of grounds to object to an administrator’s appointment. Here is the list of the reasons, or “grounds,” that can get a New York administrator dismissed, or “fired” by the Surrogate’s Court:
- The administrator is stealing from the estate. Enough said. Definitely enough of a reason to object.
- The administrator wasting or mismanaging assets of the estate. An administrator makes bad decisions with the estate’s assets. Proving mismanagement is a valid ground to object to an administrator.
- Misconduct. Doing something that makes it look bad for the administrator to be in charge of the estate any longer.
- Dishonesty. Proven instances of the administrator lying about the circumstances of the estate or of the affairs of the decedent (the person who died).
- Substance abuse. An administrator whose use of drugs or alcohol impairs their judgment as it relates to executing their duties as administrator. You should object to an alcoholic administrator.
- Improvidence. If an administrator who is too simple and lacks the sophistication to handle a complicated estate, you can object to their appointment. An administrator who is careless, neglectful or shortsighted should be objected to as well.
- Lack of mental capacity. An administrator who does not have the mental ability to collect the assets, pay debts and distribute the remainder to the beneficiaries.
- Disobeying a Court Order. The administrator not doing what the judge ordered. For example, the administrator fails to provide an accounting, fails to sell or distribute the estate’s property, or fails to pay a debt or bequest. If you are figuring out how to object to an administrator, this is one of the most effective ways.
- Misleading the Court. When the administrator should not have been appointed in the first place because they were lying about being qualified. For example, the administrator is not related to the person who died.
- Failure to Notify the Court of Change of Address. An administrator who fails to notify the court of a change of address within 30 days after such change. Not reporting a change of address does not seem like a big deal, but we have seen the court remove an administrator of an estate where failure to notify the court of the change of address was one of the factors.
- Removing property from New York state. An administrator removing property of the estate from the state of New York without prior approval of the court or waivers from the beneficiaries of the estate.
- Unfit. The administrator being unfit for the execution of the office. Fitness is a moral standard that the court will apply on a case-by-case basis. For example, if an administrator mislead the court or beneficiaries, manipulated and lied to the decedent, beneficiaries or the court, then you can object to his continuing to be the administrator.
- Ineligible. The person who is trying to become the administrator is not eligible to do so. For example, being convicted of a felony or being under 18. Or trying to become an administrator of the estate and not being related to the decedent.
- Disqualified. Objecting to an administrator who started out being eligible but is no longer eligible at this time. For example, being convicted of a felony.
- Failing to Account. An administrator who fails to file an account within the time and manner directed by the court.
If you have evidence of misconduct or disqualification specified by New York law, it is possible to successfully object to an administrator.
The Reasons Beneficiaries Want to Object
When someone tells me that they are not comfortable with the administrator and want to object to their appointment, it is usually because:
- The administrator is not trustworthy
- The administrator is not my blood relative
- The administrator is my father’s second or third wife
- I suspect the administrator will steal from the estate
- The administrator took money from the person who died
- The administrator and I do not get along
- The administrator is not communicating with me
- I tried contacting the administrator and they are ignoring me
- The administrator is not good with managing money
- The administrator is too old to manage the estate
- The administrator is too young to manage the estate
- The administrator lives out of state
- I have more experience with managing finances or with legal matters than the administrator
- The person who died would have wanted me to handle the estate, not the administrator
- The majority of the people benefitting from the estate want me, not the administrator, to handle it
Some of the usual reasons can actually be good reasons to object to an administrator, and some of them may not be enough. They work best when combined.
- The worse the misconduct of the administrator, the bigger chance of successful objections.
- The closer the actual ground is to one of the grounds listed in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (top of the article), the bigger the chance of objection going through.
- The better the proof, the bigger the chance of objections working.
When faced with an administrator who is not doing their job correctly, it is best to get in touch with a New York estate attorney. You can get a free case assessment, and an estate lawyer can evaluate the facts and circumstances of your case.
A good estate attorney will use knowledge of the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, Sections 711 and the case-law related to it. They will figure out if there are enough grounds to object to an administrator.
You can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233. He is a New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer. You can make an appointment to discuss your options regarding objecting to the administrator.
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