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Estate Administration: Small Estate Threshold Raised in New York

Probate and administration proceedings in New York State are reasonably straight forward and efficient, relative to other states, and New York law also 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, the filing fee for a voluntary administration proceeding is only $1.00, a significant savings from the $280 filing fee for estates valued from $50,000 to $100,000.  In addition, voluntary administrations can be filed with a simplified affidavit requiring fewer supporting documents than a formal petition.  

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 with only minimal assets remaining in the probate estate.

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 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.  

As always, contact us if you have any questions. Our Elder Law attorneys are always available to address your questions and concerns.  Call us at 631.390.5000 or click here.

About the Author Cona Elder Law

Cona Elder Law is a full service law firm based in Melville, LI. Our firm concentrates in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate administration and litigation, special needs planning and health care facility representation. We are proud to have been recognized for our innovative strategies, creative techniques and unparalleled negotiating skills unendingly driven toward our paramount objective - satisfying the needs of our clients.

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