After a Long Island decedent passes away, and the decedent’s will has been located, the executor appointed in the will can file a Petition for Probate with the Nassau County or Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court asking the Court to issues preliminary letters and appointment as temporary administrator of the decedent’s estate before letters testamentary are issued.
Preliminary letters allow the executor to conduct certain immediate tasks that are necessary to protect estate assets and maintain the estate such as paying bills and making necessary financial decisions regarding investment accounts owned by the decedent. Temporary letters give the personal representative the power to marshall assets of the estate and to conduct certain urgent business of the estate, but a temporary administrator of a Long Island estate is not allowed to make distributions, as well as other limitations.
Who Can Request Preliminary Letters?
The person nominated as the executor in the will is the only authorized person who can petition the Court for preliminary letters, unless for some reason the will does not name an executor.
Once when the Court issues the full letters testamentary does the executor have the full legal authority to act on behalf of the estate, making sure that claims are paid, the assets are sold and/or distributed and the estate is wound up. The letters will need to be given to the decedent’s bank and other financial institutions in order to close the decedent’s bank account and remove any items from the decedent’s safe deposit box. The letters also allow the personal representative/administrator to conduct certain other tasks on behalf of the estate, the exact parameters of which should be discussed with an attorney.
When the decedent dies without a will (intestate) an interested party to the estate can petition the Court to act as the administrator and request temporary letters or letters of administration, which are similar to preliminary letters testamentary.
Assets that are owned by a trust, held jointly or have named beneficiaries are not subject to administration or distribution by the personal representative. Those assets transfer automatically outside the estate. Only assets that were held in the decedent’s sole name are included in the probate administration. So if all the decedent’s assets are excluded assets, it would not be necessary to petition the Court for preliminary letters or letters testamentary/letters of administration.
Long Island Estate Attorney Advice
If you are designated as the personal representative/executor under a Long Island decedent’s will and need to obtain preliminary letters or letters testamentary, or your loved one died without a will (intestate) and you need to establish an intestate matter, you should seek the assistance of an experienced Long Island estate attorney to help you file the necessary Petition and other documents required for appointment as the personal representative/administrator of the estate with the Court. The attorney can also help with other estate administration matters such as settling disputes and litigation claims against the estate, selling real estate and other assets such as the decedent’s business, recommending professional appraisers, real estate brokers and accountants and filing estate tax returns.
If you wish to speak to a Long Island estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (516) 777-0647.