A small estate is the estate of an individual who dies leaving personal property having a gross value of $30,000 or less.
A voluntary administrator is a person who qualifies and undertakes to settle the estate of a decedent without the formality of a full court administration.
Voluntary administration does not apply to any interest in real property that the decedent may own. However, ownership of real property does not preclude the use of voluntary administration to administer the personal property.
A. If the decedent died without a Will, the right to act as voluntary administrator is given first to the spouse and then, in order of preference, to an adult child or grandchild, parent, brother or sister, niece or nephew or aunt or uncle of the decedent. If there be no such person to act, then the law provides for various other persons that may act.
B. If the decedent died with a Will, the named executor or alternate executor has the first right to act as voluntary administrator. However, the decedent’s Last Will and Testament must be filed with the Surrogate’s Court upon making the application for voluntary letters.
To be appointed voluntary administrator you must file an "Affidavit in Relation to Settlement of Estate Under Article 13" in the Surrogate’s Court located in the county where the decedent resided. You will also need to file an original death certificate.
If you wish to proceed without an attorney, you may obtain free voluntary administration
forms and other helpful information on the Surrogate’s Court Small Estate Affidavit
Program Web site. If you still need help, give us call at (516) 780-
If you prepare the papers on your own and file them yourself, the cost is minimal. The court fee for filing the Affidavit is $1.00.
Just like any other fiduciary, you would collect the decedent’s assets, pay any debts or expenses and distribute the balance to the beneficiaries of the Will or to the distributees under the laws of intestacy.
Once you have fully distributed the estate, you would file a "Report & Account in Settlement of Pursuant to Article 13."
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