Use of the official forms, which are appended to the SCPA, is strongly recommended. Where a particular county promulgates its own variations of these forms, such local versions should be used.20 Those forms applicable exclusively to administration proceedings are as follows: Form A-1, Petition for Letters of Administration; Form A-2, Administration Citation; Form A-3, Notice of Application for Letters of Administration; Form A-4, Affidavit of Mailing Notice of Application for Letters of Administration; Form A-5, Notice to Consul General; Form A-6, Decree Appointing Administrator; Form A-7, Affidavit of Regularity; Form A-8, Waiver of Citation, Renunciation and Consent to Appointment of Administrator
(Individual); Form A-9, Waiver of Citation and Consent to Appointment of Administrator (Corporation); Form A-10, Affidavit of Service of Citation (Adult); and Form FT-1, Family Tree.
How to fill out Administration petition (A-1 form)
Caption—In addition to filling in the venue, it is important to identify the decedent by every name under which he or she was known. The letters evidencing the fiduciary’s authority will reflect each of these names, as listed in the petition. If an asset of the decedent is discovered bearing a name used by the decedent but not reflected in the letters, collecting such asset may be difficult. Additionally, the type of letters being sought must be indicated. The remainder of this subsection discusses Official Form
A-1, item by item:
Item No. 1—Information is requested concerning the identity of the petitioner or petitioners. A petition for administration may be presented by someone other than the person to whom letters ultimately will issue.
Pursuant to SCPA 1002(1), a petition may be presented by:
- Any person interested in the estate of an intestate or a person alleged to be deceased;
- Any person to whose appointment as administrator all distributes consent pursuant to SCPA 1001;
- The public administrator or chief fiscal officer of the county;
- A creditor; or
- A person interested in an action brought or about to be brought in which the decedent would be a proper party.
There is no order of priority among the persons who may petition, and any of the above persons or member of a class of such persons may present an administration petition to the court. Nevertheless, irrespective of the petitioner’s identity, letters of administration will be granted only according to the statutory priority established by SCPA 1001.
In addition to the name and domicile of the petitioner, the status and citizenship of each petitioner must be alleged. Also, if the proposed administrator is an estate planning attorney, that fact must be disclosed.
Item No. 2—Information concerning the decedent is required, including the name, date and place of death, domicile and citizenship. The decedent’s domicile must be specified with particularity, since it is the primary basis for the surrogate’s court’s subject matter jurisdiction over the proceeding.
Item No. 3—Use a “best estimate” in fixing the value of personal and real property. The primary purposes for these questions in this proceeding are to enable the court to fix a filing fee pursuant to SCPA 2402 and to fix the penalty amount of any bond to be filed by the administrator in order to qualify. When describing parcels of real property, it is not necessary to include the legal description; a street address or other generally accepted location description is sufficient. Do not include in this estimate the value of property which passes outside the estate by operation of law (e.g., joint property, life insurance policies having a named beneficiary, unrevoked Totten trusts, etc.).
Item No. 4—This is an allegation that the decedent left no will. In a situation where there is or might be a will, an appropriate allegation should be substituted.32 SCPA 1001(9) provides a statutory basis for an administration proceeding even if there is a will (i.e., when a writing alleged to be a will has been filed in court, but probate proceedings have not been instituted within a reasonable time or have not been diligently prosecuted).
Item No. 5—The allegation in this item, that no application has ever been made for letters of administration upon the estate or for probate of a will of the decedent, should be investigated to determine that it is consistent with the facts of the particular case. Here again, if the statement is incorrect, it should be revised. Only a search of the records of the court of the county in which the petition is being filed is required. With respect to other counties, the form’s allegation as to the fact that “petitioner is informed and verily believes that no such application ever has been made” is sufficient, if true.
Item No. 6—This item requires only the number (not the names, addresses or other identification) of persons who are the distributees of the decedent as set forth in EPTL 4-1.1 and 4-1.2 and N.Y. Domestic
Relations Law § 117 (DRL). The information provided in this item will be expanded with information to be provided under item no. 7 in the petition.
Item No. 7—This item requests detailed information concerning the distributees set forth in item no. 6. In each case, the name, relationship (to the decedent), address and citizenship of the distributee is requested. In describing the relationship, it is necessary to explain how that relationship is traced when such relationship is derived through another person who is deceased.
Item No. 8—Information regarding debts and funeral expenses is used by the court principally in conjunction with the fixing of a bond, particularly in circumstances where the petitioner is seeking to have the court reduce the amount of, or totally dispense with the filing of, a bond. Typically, the information in this item may be uncertain at this early stage, especially as to debts. All known information should be disclosed and best estimates given where actual amounts are not available. Where information is uncertain, incomplete or unknown, that fact should be disclosed.
Item No. 9—While nothing need be filled in here, the petitioner must, of course, be satisfied that the allegation that there are no persons interested in the proceeding other than those mentioned is true.