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How Do I Settle an Estate in Westchester County?

The ultimate duty of any executor or administrator of an estate is to settle the estate being represented. By doing this, the executor or administrator documents for the Surrogate’s Court that all creditors have been paid, estate taxes have been handled and the beneficiaries have been given their legal gifts. Because handling any estate is a complex matter, it is best to have the assistance of a Westchester estate attorney when you are the executor or administrator so that you can be sure that everything is done properly.

When you have been named executor or administrator of an estate, you must give the creditors of that estate seven months to file a claim against the estate so that they may be paid. While the beneficiaries of the estate may want their money right away, it is unwise to make any gifts out of the estate before this seven months has passed. The reason behind wanting to do this is that debts and taxes must be taken out of the estate before any beneficiary is paid. If there is an unexpected expense and you have paid a beneficiary, you may be held personally responsible by the government or the debtor if you cannot get the money back from the beneficiary.

When the seven months has passed, it is safe to make the distributions to the beneficiaries. To do this, normally you would send each beneficiary an accounting of the estate along with the “receipt, release and waiver”, which would allow the beneficiaries to sign and be given their gifts. If, at that point, the beneficiaries agree with the accounting, they can be paid. Once this is done, the executor or the administrator would close the estate with the courts. However, if any beneficiary has an objection to the accounting at that point, they would be able to stall closing out the estate with the courts and possibly bring proceedings before the Surrogate’s Court to have their objections heard.

There is a different procedure that is followed for small estates. This can be settled without being heard in front of the estate and may be preferable if there is only a small amount to be distributed or the amount being distributed is only going to the spouse or a few beneficiaries. This would be ideal for estates where there is less than $30,000 in assets because it takes less time and there are fewer court fees.

If you are an executor or administrator of an estate, there are many duties that you have to take care of. Failure to do your duty correctly could mean that you are personally responsible, even if you didn’t mean to make a mistake. Because of this, having an experienced Westchester estate attorney helping you is the best thing you can do when it comes to settling the estate. That way, you can be sure that everything is taken care of properly, which will ultimately protect you legally. Call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (914) 293-2043.