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Understanding fiduciary responsibilities after a person's death

The responsibilities of a fiduciary in New York should be taken seriously after a person's death. Estate administration has certain requirements based on the estate plan and the fiduciary plays a critical role. There are numerous terms that could be applicable, depending on the circumstances. Understanding these and the duties and responsibilities of the fiduciary can be complicated. A lawyer can be of assistance with estate administration.

The estate proceeding will dictate the way the fiduciary is described. When there is probate, the fiduciary is the executor and has been named in the will. When there is an administration, the fiduciary is the administrator and is generally the closest relative to the decedent. With a small estate, it is a voluntary administrator. The fiduciary will also be the closest relative if the decedent died intestate.

There are various duties and responsibilities that the person will have after the decedent has passed on. The fiduciary is obligated to work in good faith for the estate and put the interest of the estate first. Based on the Surrogate Court rules, the fiduciary may need to be bonded prior to the appointment. The bond serves as a method of reimbursement should there be a loss to the estate and makes the fiduciary financially responsible for it. The executor must follow the wishes detailed in the will. When there is no will, the voluntary administrator and administrator are required to adhere to the intestacy laws.

The fiduciary is responsible for collecting, appraising and having an inventory of the estate; paying bills, taxes and other expenses belonging to the decedent; and transferring property based on the will or the law. Being a fiduciary is a major responsibility and can be difficult. Those who are concerned about handling the responsibility appropriately or those who need assistance drafting an estate plan should make certain they have legal assistance from a law firm that understands estate administration.

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