Estate and Trust Administration

Pierro, Connor & Associates, LLC can help people living in communities around Albany and New York City with services relating to estate and trust administration and litigation.

Estate and Trust Administration falls into four basic categories: 

  1. Administration of Assets Passing Under Wills: If you are an executor or a beneficiary of a Will, we will help you determine the assets and debts of the estate, navigate your way through the court system and determine how to effect distribution of the estate.

  2. Administration of Estates Without Wills: If you are eligible to serve as an administrator or to receive assets of an estate without a Will, we will help you navigate your way through the court system, determine who the beneficiaries are and how the assets must be distributed under NY law.

  3. Trust Administration: If you are a trustee or beneficiary of a trust, we will help you determine your rights and obligations under the terms of the trust and NY law.

  4. Tax Advice: Regardless of what form of administration is required we will provide you with the tax advice you need to best meet your objectives.

If you are an Executor, Trustee or a beneficiary and you have questions regarding your rights and obligations regarding a trust or an estate call us to schedule an appointment to get the answers you need.

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Types of Services

  • Preparation of Petition for Probate, and appointment of Executor and related services
  • Preparation of Petition for Letters of Administration, appointment of Administrator and related services
  • Preparation of Petition to Settle the Account of an Executor or Trustee and related services
  • Preparation of Petitions by an Executor to settle personal injury and/or wrongful death actions on behalf of an estate
  • Pre-mortem audits of estate planning documents to determine their effectiveness for minimizing taxes and ease of estate administration
  • Post mortem estate and income tax planning
  • Federal Gift Tax Return preparation and related services
  • Federal Estate Tax Return preparation and related services
  • New York State Estate Tax Return preparation and related services
  • Legal advice in connection with estate and gift tax audits
  • Estate and trust litigation services
  • All other services connected with the usual administration of estates and trusts

FAQs 

  • Am I entitled to be compensated for my services as Executor?
    • Yes, you are entitled to commissions by statute under the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. You are not required to take commissions, but if you do, any commissions received by you will be subject to income in the year received.

  • Are Will contests common?
    • No, and they seldom succeed except when extenuating circumstances such as fraud, duress, undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity or invalid execution of the Will exist. 

  • How long does the estate administration process last?
    • The estate must remain open for at least seven months from your appointment as Executor or Executrix. This period is known as the creditor’s period under New York law. However, for larger estates requiring the filing of state or federal estate tax returns, or for estates involving complicated issues or litigation, the period can be considerably longer.

  • Must beneficiaries pay an income tax on their inheritance?
    • No. However, they will be responsible to pay their share of any tax on any post mortem income earned on their inheritance, as well as on any income accrued to, but not realized by the deceased during his or her lifetime, such as income on savings bonds and IRAs. 

  • Must the beneficiaries pay an estate tax on the property they receive under the Will?
    • If the estate is large enough to require the filing of a Federal Estate Tax Return, currently $5,430,000 in 2015, a Federal Estate Tax may be due. If the estate is large enough to require the filing of a NYS Estate Tax Return, a NYS Estate Tax may be due. The current 2015 NY exemption amount is $3,125,000 for decedents dying between April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

  • Must the estate pay any fees to the Surrogate’s Court?
    • Yes, each proceeding commenced in the Surrogate’s Court, including the probate proceeding, will require the payment of a fee to the Surrogate’s Court. The size of the fee will vary with the size of the estate, and can run anywhere from $45.00 to $1,250.00 depending on the size of the estate. The same fee is applicable to administration proceedings and accounting proceedings. Additional court fees may be applicable as required by statute.

  • Since I was named Executor under the Will, isn’t it true that I may begin to administer the estate immediately upon the death of the testator or testatrix?
    • No. A petition must first be filed with the appropriate Surrogate’s Court to determine that the Will is valid and that you are fit for appointment as a fiduciary.

  • What are some common factors that could increase the time and cost involved in administering the estate?
    • A few such factors include litigation, estate tax filing requirements, creditor’s claims, minor beneficiaries, incapacitated beneficiaries, charitable beneficiaries, accounting proceedings, problems proving the validity of the Will to the Court’s satisfaction, and assets which are difficult to value and/or distribute equitably. The aforementioned list is merely intended to be illustrative and is by no means an exhaustive list.

  • What will be the cost of the legal services required to administer the estate?
    • The cost for the legal services required to administer estates can vary widely depending on the facts and circumstances of the estate. Under New York law, there are certain factors which should be considered in determining a reasonable legal fee. Those factors include, but are not necessarily limited to, the nature of the work involved, the complexity of the work involved, the amount involved, the reputation of the attorney, the time dedicated to the file, and the results obtained. Pierro Schaeffer & Connor will set forth the fee it believes is appropriate for your file in a formal letter of engagement which we will ask you to sign before commencing work on the estate. The legal fees paid are in addition to any fees paid to the Court, experts, or other third party vendors. 

  • Who may challenge the Will?
    • Certain family members who survive the decedent known as distributees. Distributees are defined under NYS Estate Powers and Trust Law. Also, certain persons adversely affected by the purported Will or a Codicil thereto may challenge the Will or Codicil.