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Can a person with a felony be executor of a will?

Sidney, NY |

My brother-in-law says he can't be executor because of his felony. My mother-in-law passed away and he inherited everything; house, land cars,ect. and now he can't be executor? Please advise.

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Attorney answers 3


Even though I don't practice in New York, most states prohibit persons from serving as an executor when they have a felony conviction. Your brother in law should probably ask another sibling if they would serve as executor.


Just because he gets all the assets from the estate does not entitle him to be executor. So he will not be the executor due to his felony status, but he is still entitled to receive what he is entitled to under the will. If the mother-in-law named an alternate executor, then that person is the one that should serve. If she did not name an alternate, then the court must approve a successor. Get with an experienced estates attorney to assist you here and with the estate administration generally.

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That is in fact the law in New York. He may be able to designate someone else to be the administrator (I am assuming your mother-in-law died without a will). The worst case scenario is for the Court to appoint a public official to administer the estate. Many of the New York counties have an office of a public administrator. For other counties, I believe the County treasurer may have those functions. The fees for administering an estate under those conditions are as high as 12% of its value. Your brother-in-law should consult an attorney on this matter.

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