Most people correctly assume you need a local executor in New York, but they may not know exactly why. Let’s review a few real-world scenarios and reasons why you need an executor local to New York.
KYC stands for “know your customer,” and this applies to banking requirements. Banks take steps to make sure the customer is who they say they are. This helps prevent fraud, terrorism, and money laundering. Often banks require meeting the executor in person to close an account or open the estate account – they have to physically see the authorized person sign the opening and closing documents.
This may seem hard to believe, since you can open a bank account via text, app, website, etc. in minutes nowadays! However, in probate, an executor represents someone else (the estate or the heirs). Going to the bank in person is usually required and very inconvenient for an executor who lives far away.
The process also applies to brokerages or any regulated financial institution.
Selling New York real estate
First, we’ll talk about the physical logistics such as the cleanout, renovations, and choosing the broker. It may be possible to do these things remotely, but it’s better to be there in person to oversee that nothing is breaking and that the renovations are up to par. Someone should be there to make sure the personal effects are sent to the heirs properly. Similarly, would you buy a home by video, or would you like to see it in person?
Choosing a broker in person is important to help get a sense of whether they understand the nuisances of the particular unit and type of neighborhood.
When it comes to New York real estate, there is a good chance you will be dealing with a co-op. We’ve talked at length before about New York co-op rules. Some of the co-ops require, above and beyond New York state law, that the executor be a New York resident. Co-ops are their own little kingdoms with their own set of rules. It is really tough for an outside executor to understand the co-op rules if they are not familiar with New York co-ops.
Also, real estate closings in New York are not conducted remotely or by FedEx. We still sit around a table for 3 or 4 hours in-person and then sign the papers furiously at the end. Antiquated, yes, but it’s how it’s done.
Dealing with local bureaucracies
Until recently, ordering death certificates online didn’t exist or at least didn’t apply to New York City. You had to go down to the Health and Human Services Department and stand in line. To get it done quickly, you better know the lady behind the desk!
Similarly, while you can technically order court documents online, it is actually easier if you have someone get them in person. For example, to order a certified copy of a file, you need to know the page count, because they charge per page. How do you get the page count unless you go to the courthouse and see the file? Calling and asking how many pages are in the file isn’t going to happen.
We know that these seem like odd examples, but these are real life situations. That being said, my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” is definitely a good idea if you are thinking of appointing an out-of-town executor.
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