Probate and administration proceedings in New York State can be time-consuming and costly, but New York law allows for a simplified proceeding called voluntary administration for small estates with a value below a certain threshold. Recently, the threshold was expanded from estates valued at less than $30,000 to include all estates under $50,000.
Voluntary administration benefits applicants and estates. First and foremost, the filing fee for a voluntary administration proceeding is only $1.00, a significant savings from the $280.00 filing fee for estates valued from $50,000 to $100,000. In addition, voluntary administrations can be filed with a simplified and abbreviated affidavit requiring fewer supporting documents than a formal application.
The voluntary administration process is available for qualifying estates regardless of whether the decedent died with or without a will. Nominated executors can still seek appointment as fiduciary and distribute the estate in accordance with the decedent’s will. Likewise, next of kin can apply to become voluntary administrators and distribute the estate in accordance with New York law where the decedent died without a will. All fiduciaries appointed through this process receive voluntary letters of administration enabling them to carry out the duties of administering and distributing the estate.
This proceeding is helpful not only when a decedent dies with modest assets, but also when someone dies with the bulk of his or her assets subject to beneficiary designations or in a trust and has minimal assets remaining in the probate estate (meaning assets that are owned by the decedent and do not have a beneficiary designation). It is common for people to engage in estate planning and create a trust to avoid probate, but still own a small bank account subject to probate upon their death. These estates benefit from voluntary administration by avoiding the extensive paperwork and information necessary for the formal probate proceeding the estate plan was designed to circumvent.
Voluntary administration may be utilized in most instances when the estate falls below the threshold, but formal letters of administration or letters testamentary are necessary when the estate owns real property or will pursue an action for personal injury or wrongful death.
If you need to administer a New York Estate, contact the experienced attorneys at Mandelbaum Barrett PC. We will be there for you for every step of the process during this difficult time and help you carry out the wishes or your friends and family.