Three questions :
1) Before being granted letters of administration, can the Public Administrator sell any property from the estate, including Real Property?
2) Though the Public Administrator is petitioning the court for Administration, can
(a) the rightful heir step up and be granted letters of administration?
(b) after letters being issued to the Public Administrator, have any say in the matters of the estate?
3) Is there a statute of limitations governing the amount of time the Public Administrator has to find rightful heirs, or should I say, a mandatory duty of due diligence to make a real attempt at locating righful heirs?
I believe I may have an uphill battle in front of me here and can use some help
1) Nobody can dispose of decedent's assets without proper letters issued by the court.
2) When there is an application for letters by the public administrator, the basis is that there are no known heirs eligible to receive letters, or all of those eligible have declined. That application has to be on notice to those who may be eligible, or if none are known, the court establishes the manner in which notice may be attempted. If letters are erroneously granted to the Public Administrator, a person otherwise eligible may petition to be appointed in the place of th Public Administrator.
3) There is no statute of limitations that governs the amount of time to wait for heirs to come forward. The Court sets a time in response to the application for letters and retains power to supervise the administration and to revisit its own decisions.
If you are an heir and the publc adminsitrator is already involved, you need a probate lawyer (in New York, a Surrogate Court lawyer) right now..
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Mr Brophy offers excellent advice. If you are a beneficiary get an estates lawyer immediately to assist you and to perhaps gain control of this estate. Calling Mr. Brophy would be a great idea. I have read many of his answers here at Avvo and he is a very experienced and knowledgeable estate attorney. Give him a call right away.
Hope this helps.
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I am a NY lawyer. Prior to the public administrator being appointed with full letters, he or she can get preliminary letters to complete a sale but not a distribution. Also, the public administrator can seek a court order if there is a reason - such as waste. A rightful heir can step up. Usually, an heir must go through a kinship proceeding to estabglish heirship, but not always. When the public admin is appointed, there is also always a guardian ad litem for the unknown heirs. If the guardian agrees that you are the sole heir, the can adopt the guardian's report (and usually does) and oder heirship. This is complex, but very doable. After letters are issued, the pa will ussually work with your lawyer to ensure that no objections are filed. There are many statute of limitations that apply, but you can't wait. If you are going to appear, do it before assets are dispersed so the pa knows some one is watching. You should consult a lawyer.
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