Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres
Decedent died intestate survived by four sons. The various pending applications all petition and cross-petition for letters of administration for appointment of a fiduciary for the estate. The court noted the parties’ behavior at numerous conferences “ranged from accusatory to…confrontational, to defiant outrage,” and after years of arguments the parties do not trust each other and were unable to cooperate together. The court advised the parties at a conference that it intended to appoint the Public Administrator (PA) as the fiduciary of decedent’s estate given the extensive delay and disharmony among the distributees. The court stated while each of the petitioning distributees had a prior right to be appointed administrator of decedent’s estate and mere hostility may not serve to disqualify an otherwise qualified fiduciary. The court concluded it may decline to issue letters of administration where it was apparent the “friction between the petitioner and the objectants would interfere with the proper and efficient administration of the estate and that future cooperation is unlikely.” Here, it was clear the hostility among the parties impeded the efficient administration of decedent’s estate. Hence, the petition and cross-petitions were dismissed and letters were issued to the PA.