When a Decedent (the person who died) did not have a Will then the proceeding is called an administration. If the Decedent died with a Will, then a probate proceeding should be filed. If the Decedent had less than $50,000 of personal property with a Will or without a Will, then a small estate, also called a voluntary administration proceeding, can be filed instead.

Administration is the process where the Surrogate's Court issues Letters of Administration to a qualified distributee of the Decedent. Letters of Administration appoints a Decedent's distributee and gives them the authority to collect and distribute the Decedent's property according to the law.

If the Decedent's only asset is real property (real estate), it may not be necessary to file an administration proceeding depending on who survives the Decedent. By law, real property vests in the Decedent's distributee at the time of death which makes the distributees the owners of the property. It might be a good idea to contact a real estate attorney and the tax office to get more information.


Filing for Administration

In New York there is a rule for who can file the administration proceeding. In general, the person who is the closest distributee (heir) to the Decedent files for administration. See When There Is No Will.

The closest distributee files a copy of the paid funeral bill, a certified copy of the death certificate with the Petition for Letters of Administration and other supporting documents in the Surrogate's Court in the county where the Decedent had their primary residence. You may be able to file the papers over the internet using NYSCEF, the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system. Check to see if you can do this on the e-filing County List for your Surrogate's Court.

The Decedent's distributees must also be listed in the petition. Distributees must be served with a notice, formally called a citation. The citation gives the Surrogate's Court jurisdiction over them. This means that the Surrogate's Court has the authority to determine the rights of the people involved. A citation tells the distributee that someone is asking for Letters of Administration to manage the Decedent's estate. The distributee can sign a waiver and consent to the appointment of the Administrator or come to court to disagree with the appointment. There may also be a waiver of bond included.

The filing fee is based on the size of the estate.

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