A Small Estate or Voluntary Administration is used when the decedent had less than $50,000 of personal property and no real estate. If there is a possibility of a wrongful death or other lawsuit in the future, a probate or an administration proceeding should be filed. In a Small Estate proceeding, the Surrogate’s Court appoints a Voluntary Administrator. If there is a will, the executor named in the will is appointed the Voluntary Administrator. If there is no will, the  closest heir is named the Voluntary Administrator. The Surrogate’s Court issues a certificate for each asset listed in the Affidavit of Voluntary Administration.  The New York Surrogate’s Court has an online  program  that walks you step-by-step through how to complete the paperwork to be appointed Voluntary Administrator with helpful definitions and legal information. When you finish the program you will obtain the necessary court forms and instructions of what to do next.

You will need the following information to you use this program:

  • The name and address of the decedent.
  • A certified copy of the death certificate.
  • The name and address of the decedent’s spouse, children, and grandchildren.
    • If the decedent did not have a husband or wife, children or grandchildren, the name and address of the decedent’s father and mother.
    • If the decedent’s parents are no longer living, the name and address of the decedent’s siblings.
    • If the decedent’s siblings are no longer living, the name and address of the siblings’ children.
    • If none of the above family members of the decedent are living, the name and address of any aunt or uncle .
  • The original Will and the names and addresses of people mentioned in the Will.
  • The value of each asset, including account numbers and serial numbers . Assets may include bank accounts (not joint accounts), investment accounts, insurance policies with no beneficiaries, cars and boats.
  • The decedent’s unpaid creditors, including credit card bills, utility bills, and funeral expenses.


Read the free Executor’s Legal Survival ® Guide for further information on the duties of executors and administrators.


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