When someone passes away without a Will, then the Surrogate’s Court determines who is entitled to inherit from the decedent's estate. The person who seeks to handle the decedent's estate or the proposed Administrator, submits a petition to the court. In an Administration proceeding, certain persons have priority to serve as Administrator, strictly based on degrees of kinship to the decedent. Once appointed, the Administrator normally posts a bond with the court and follows the court's direction in collecting and ultimately distributing estate assets among lawful creditors and beneficiaries.
A Voluntary Administration, also known as a small estate proceeding, is handily available in New York for small estates of $50,000 or less with no pending litigation or real estate involved. In these proceedings, the Surrogate relaxes the many requirements involved in a regular probate or administration proceeding, reduces the court filing fees, and permits a wide array of people to apply. The Voluntary Administrator must then distribute each estate asset to the lawful heirs and ultimately account to the court for his/her/their actions before being released.