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In the state of New York, the process by which a fiduciary is appointed for the estate is called Intestate Administration. An Administrator needs to be appointed for the estate if the decedent died with assets valued at $30,000 or more.
Since there is no Will appointing an Executor, the law sets forth who may be appointed Administrator. Usually, the Administrator will be, in order of preference, the spouse, the children, the grandchildren, the father or mother, the brother or sisters and so on. The exact order is specifically provided by New York Statute. New York Surrogates Court Procedure Act 1001. See following link: http://www.nycprobate.com/1001.html
The Administration proceeding is begun by filing an Administration petition with the Surrogate’s Court in the county in which the decedent resided. After jurisdiction has been completed and all issues have been addressed, the Court will issue Letters of Administration. This document gives the appointed Administrator the authority to act on behalf of the estate.
The role of the Administrator is the same as that of the Executor. He or she will be expected to liquidate and/or collect the assets of the estate, file and pay income and estate taxes, address creditors’ claims and make distributions according to the law of intestacy. Since the decedent died without a Will, the law governs how the estate is distributed.
See New York and Estates powers and Trust law 4-1.1 at link: http://www.nycprobate.com/411.html
So to answer your question, the distribution of the estate is handled by the administrator under the supervision of the court. Remember if the real estate or any other asset in the estate is held jointly or under certain interests that allow it be passed outside of probate
(for example real estate held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship
and a bank account held jointly, etc.), then those assets will not have to go through probate.
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