When a loved one dies without a will, courts may appoint a temporary administrator to take responsibility for fiduciary functions. This ensures that pressing affairs of the estate, like securing a property, are addressed while the probate process unfolds. Read on for further information about temporary administrators and court required administrator bonds.
Probate Courts Appoint Administrators
In New York, if there is no will, a friend or family member of the decedent may petition the Surrogate’s Court for “letters of administration,” so that the affairs of the estate can begin to be settled. If there are delays in the process, a temporary administrator can be authorized to act as the fiduciary. New York Probate Lawyer provides this explanation:
In cases where there is no Will, the decedent is considered to have died intestate. As a result, a petition for letters of administration is presented to the Surrogate’s Court….Unfortunately, the process to obtain… letters of administration can take a number of months.When there is an intestate estate, SCPA 901 entitled “When temporary administration may be granted” provides for the appointment of a temporary administrator to engage in fiduciary functions. Both preliminary executors and temporary administrators insure that a decedent’s estate is handled and secured pending a final determination in probate or administration proceedings.
Probate law experts also note that the court can appoint a temporary administrator if there are complications associated with a will: “This often occurs when a fiduciary in the probate case does not pursue some required task or when there appears to be a conflict of interest. For example, the executor or preliminary executor has a personal conflict regarding estate litigation or recovering estate assets from himself.”
Given the significant fiduciary duties entrusted to administrators and temporary administrators, courts frequently require a bond, known as an administrator bond. As a type of fiduciary bond, administrator bonds protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries by guaranteeing the faithful performance of the appointed administrator in accordance with state law. Colonial Surety, a leading national provider of administrator and other fiduciary bonds, helps court appointed administrators in every state quickly and affordably obtain their required bonds.The steps to obtaining an administrator bond with Colonial are easy: get a quote online, enter a payment method and then print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even from the Surrogate’s Court.
Case Study: Temporary Administrator
Ordinarily, probate is simply the legal, public process that brings closure to our affairs when we die. Most states offer expedited probate processes depending upon the level of assets involved. Ordinarily, families work smoothly through the probate process, avoiding probate litigation, which can be costly in terms of time, money and relationships, as Kennedy & Rusham Law explains:
The term, “probate litigation” refers to lawsuits filed in probate court — and the legal proceedings associated with resolving these lawsuits. Probate litigation may include:
- Contesting a will
- Disputing a trust
- Highlighting undue influence
- Disproving false claims from creditors
- Removing an executor for breaching their fiduciary duties
The recent Matter of Winter decided in a Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, provides an example of a complex proceeding which led to the appointment of a temporary administrator. New York Probate Lawyer shares this case summary:
In Winter, a Will was being offered for probate. However, there were substantial issues regarding the validity of the Will since the decedent had been declared incapacitated in an Article 81 guardianship proceeding prior to his death. Also, the primary beneficiary in the purported Will was claimed to be in possession of funds improperly transferred prior to death. Since it was apparent that the proponent of the suspect Will had a conflict of interest with regard to pursuing the claims regarding the conversion of the decedent’s assets, the Court appointed a temporary administrator. In this case, the parties who questioned the validity of the Will were granted limited letters of administration to investigate and pursue litigation to recover assets which they claimed belonged to the estate.
Good To Know
Across the country, lawyers and their clients rely on Colonial Surety’s efficient digital bond portfolio to quickly obtain, purchase and e-file bonds required by courts. Colonial’s fiduciary bonds include: administrator, personal representative, estate, executor, probate, surrogate, trustee, and more.
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