The estates of Brooklyn residents who pass away without a will are being mismanaged by the Kings County Public Administrator’s Administration of Estates (KCPA), an audit by the New York City Comptroller’s Office shows.

In a statement on Tuesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer said it was the KCPA’s responsibility to protect each decedent’s estate from waste, loss and theft, make burial arrangements, identify and liquidate assets, pay taxes and distribute the assets in accordance with a decree issued by the Surrogate’s Court. 

However, the audit found weak controls and insufficient procedures for searching for, collecting, retaining and recording personal property belonging to the deceased, and it also noted conflicting orders from the Surrogate’s Court impaired the KCPA’s ability to administer estates properly. 

Stringer said the audit uncovered “disturbing weaknesses in the Brooklyn public administrator’s office,” that hurt its ability to safeguard and account for personal belongings of the deceased.

“Bureaucracy and conflicts cannot stand in the way of responsible management of estates and their property. We owe it to those New Yorkers we have lost and their families to be responsible stewards.” 

The Office of the Kings County Public Administrator, appointed by judges on the Surrogate’s Court, administers estates of Brooklyn residents who die without a will and without a family member or other person authorized to administer their estates.  In Kings County, two elected Surrogate’s Court judges preside over the Surrogate’s Court. 

The audit found conflicting directives from the Surrogate’s Court to the PA and deputy PA, weaknesses in KCPA’s operating practices, inconsistencies in collection and inventory, a lack of documentation, and a loss of personal property.

In turn, Stringer has recommended that The Kings County Surrogate’s Court should review and resolved contradictions in its Administrative Orders, and develop an internal framework in which the two Kings County Surrogates may jointly provide an appropriate level of Court oversight to ensure the KCPA’s accountability to the Court for the administration of estates. 

He recommended that KCPA establishes written policies and procedures that include detailed guidance to staff; properly logs and maintains essential information; consistently documents the total inventory intake process; performs and obtains appraisals of non-liquid inventory items belonging to closed estates; downloads, preserve and periodically compares copies of video surveillance records with access log records to ensure a complete record of access to the vault. 

Estates of Brooklynites Who Die Without a Will Face Inconsistent, Inadequate Management, Audit Shows

Comptroller Scott Stringer audited the operating practices of the Kings County Public Administrator’s Administration of Estates and found weaknesses in the management of estates  

The estates of Brooklyn residents who pass away without a will are being mismanaged by the Kings County Public Administrator’s Administration of Estates (KCPA), an audit by the New York City Comptroller’s Office shows.

In a statement on Tuesday, Comptroller Scott Stringer said it was the KCPA’s responsibility to protect each decedent’s estate from waste, loss and theft, make burial arrangements, identify and liquidate assets, pay taxes and distribute the assets in accordance with a decree issued by the Surrogate’s Court. 

However, the audit found weak controls and insufficient procedures for searching for, collecting, retaining and recording personal property belonging to the deceased, and it also noted conflicting orders from the Surrogate’s Court impaired the KCPA’s ability to administer estates properly. 

Stringer said the audit uncovered “disturbing weaknesses in the Brooklyn public administrator’s office,” that hurt its ability to safeguard and account for personal belongings of the deceased.

“Bureaucracy and conflicts cannot stand in the way of responsible management of estates and their property. We owe it to those New Yorkers we have lost and their families to be responsible stewards.” 

The Office of the Kings County Public Administrator, appointed by judges on the Surrogate’s Court, administers estates of Brooklyn residents who die without a will and without a family member or other person authorized to administer their estates.  In Kings County, two elected Surrogate’s Court judges preside over the Surrogate’s Court. 

The audit found conflicting directives from the Surrogate’s Court to the PA and deputy PA, weaknesses in KCPA’s operating practices, inconsistencies in collection and inventory, a lack of documentation, and a loss of personal property.

In turn, Stringer has recommended that The Kings County Surrogate’s Court should review and resolved contradictions in its Administrative Orders, and develop an internal framework in which the two Kings County Surrogates may jointly provide an appropriate level of Court oversight to ensure the KCPA’s accountability to the Court for the administration of estates. 

He recommended that KCPA establishes written policies and procedures that include detailed guidance to staff; properly logs and maintains essential information; consistently documents the total inventory intake process; performs and obtains appraisals of non-liquid inventory items belonging to closed estates; downloads, preserve and periodically compares copies of video surveillance records with access log records to ensure a complete record of access to the vault. 

There is currently an open seat on Brooklyn’s Surrogate Court, which will be filled following this June’s elections. The judicial elections — which also include three Civil Court seats — will not be subject to ranked choice voting, because they are viewed as state elections.

The two contenders for the seat are Dweynie Paul, who was elected to Brooklyn Civil Court in 2015 and is currently assigned to Queens Family Court, and Rosemarie Montalbano, who currently serves as a justice in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

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  1. The attorney for the public administrator is appointed by a smoke filled back room process that is completely opaque. Their word goes so if you get effed over cause you don’t know estate law you are out in the cold.

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