Checklist for New York Estate Executors and Administrators

Checklist for estate executorThe passing of a loved one can be an overwhelming and emotional time for those left behind. In addition to grieving, family members and friends may also be faced with the responsibility of settling the decedent’s estate. This is where the role of an estate executor or administrator comes into play.

If you have been designated as an executor or appointed as an administrator of an estate in New York, you have a crucial responsibility to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out and the estate is administered in accordance with New York law.

Navigating the complexities of estate administration can be a daunting task, especially for those who have never assumed such a role before. That’s why we’ve created the “Checklist for New York Estate Executors and Administrators,” a guide designed to help you understand and manage your obligations during this critical process.

This checklist covers a wide range of topics, including initiating probate or administration proceedings, managing estate assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.

By following this guide, you’ll be better equipped to fulfill your role as executor or administrator and ensure a smooth estate administration process. Remember that each estate is unique, and this checklist should be used in conjunction with professional advice tailored to your specific situation.

As you embark on this journey, we hope that the checklist will be a valuable resource, providing clarity and direction during this challenging time.


  • Obtain official copies of the decedent’s death certificate.
  • Locate and review the decedent’s last will and testament (if applicable).
  • Petition the Surrogate’s Court for appointment as executor/administrator.
  • Obtain Letters Testamentary (for executors) or Letters of Administration (for administrators) from the court.
  • Apply for a tax identification number (EIN) for the estate from the IRS.
  • Notify the decedent’s beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors of the estate administration process.
  • Open a separate estate bank account using the EIN to manage the estate’s financial transactions.
  • Review the decedent’s financial records to identify all assets, liabilities, and ongoing expenses.
  • Inventory and appraise the estate’s assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal property, and insurance policies.
  • Secure the decedent’s property and valuables, including changing locks, if necessary.
  • Collect income owed to the decedent or the estate, such as rents, dividends, and royalties.
  • Review and pay any outstanding debts and expenses of the decedent and the estate, including taxes, mortgages, loans, utility bills, and medical bills.
  • File necessary tax returns for the decedent and the estate, including federal and state income tax returns and estate tax returns, if applicable.
  • Maintain accurate and detailed records of all financial transactions related to the estate.
  • Distribute assets to beneficiaries and heirs according to the terms of the will or intestate succession laws, if applicable.
  • Obtain receipts or releases from beneficiaries and heirs upon distribution of assets.
  • Prepare and submit a final accounting of the estate to the Surrogate’s Court, detailing all income, expenses, and distributions.
  • Request the court’s approval for the final accounting and discharge of the executor or administrator.
  • Close the estate bank account after all transactions have been completed.
  • Retain copies of all documents and records related to the estate administration for a minimum of seven years in case of future inquiries or disputes.

Note: This checklist is intended as a general guide for estate executors and administrators in New York. It is always advisable to consult with an experienced estate attorney to ensure compliance with all state and local laws and regulations, as well as to address any specific issues or complexities related to the estate.

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