About the Public Administrator

About the Public Administrator

What is a Public Administrator?

First and foremost, the public administrator is a fiduciary. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, a fiduciary is a “person or institution who manages money or property for another and who must exercise a standard of care in such management activity imposed by law . . . .  The status of being a fiduciary gives rise to certain legal incidents and obligations, including the prohibition against investing the money or property in investments which are speculative or otherwise imprudent.”

In New York, the public administrator is a public official provided for by statute (New York law). The person for whom the public administrator manages money or property has died, and there is no one else available to administer the decedent’s estate, that is, the decedent left no will, and there is no qualified person to administer the decedent’s estate. One is said to administer the estate of a decedent when he or she manages, or takes charge of, the assets and liabilities of the deceased.

What are the duties of a Public Administrator?

The Public Administrator's duties include protecting the decedent’s property from waste, loss or theft; making appropriate burial arrangements when no close relative is available to make the decisions; conducting thorough investigations to discover all assets; liquidating assets at estate sales or distributing assets to heirs; paying the decedent’s bills and taxes; and locating persons entitled to inherit from the estate and ensuring that the legal distributees receive their inheritance.