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Death of Customer causes confusion
October 27, 2021
Death of Customer causes confusion
          Our customer recently died. We received a document from the Probate Court from the deceased customer’s daughter stating there wasn’t a will and she was being named Administrator. We then received a call from deceased customer’s fiancé stating there was a Will and that the daughter was not named executor.
          I called the fiancé’s attorney to inquire about a potential will, and he said they did receive a Will (after the daughter received Letters of Administration from the Probate court) that did in fact name someone else as Executor. The attorney believes the Will to be legitimate and that the daughter’s attorney seems amenable to that fact. However, everyone is on vacation, and so this won’t be settled for certain for a while.
          In the meantime, neither the daughter nor the fiancé are listed on the account, so we are effectively freezing it and not allowing any changes until an official court decision. Is that the best way forward or is there something else we need to be doing to limit our exposure?
          Getting in the middle of an estate dispute is not something you want to do.  Your question relates to your potential liability and there are a few areas of concern.  You mention that you are waiting for “official court decision”.  When there is no Will naming an Executor [called Personal Representative in some states] the Probate Court will appoint someone as the Estate Administrator.  The Administrator steps into the shoes of the decedent, your customer. 
          Your contract with your customer doesn’t terminate upon death [at least that’s not how the Residential All in One was prepared and sent to you].  The customer’s estate remains liable on that contract and the Administrator has the power to enforce that contract.  If you received notice that an application for the appointment of an Administrator has been made then that’s different than notice that the Administrator was appointed.  Seems like either an Administrator or an Executor is going to be appointed.  Then you will know who you can treat as your customer. 
          In the mean time you can continue to provide your services, though you can also stop if you aren’t getting paid.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301