Governor Kathy Hochul Signs Assemblyman Charles D. Fall Fair and Just Legislation Granting New Yorkers a Second Chance

Governor Hochul signed into law, legislation (A.2573-A/S.294-A) to allow those who have served their sentence the ability to become executor or executrix to their family estate. The legislation was passed in the Assembly by a bi-partisan vote of 146-1 and along party line vote 43-20 in the Senate. The legislation was signed last Friday evening as chap.486 of the laws of 2021.

Previous law was detrimental to anyone convicted of a felony allowing them to become a fiduciary of an estate, even if the deceased parent/family member(s) named said individual executor of the estate. The recently enacted law will rectify this prohibition while giving latitude to the court to still judge on certain cases where the prior conviction was associated with fraud, embezzlement or whose crime may be averse to the welfare of the estate.

State laws govern probate and surrogate courts, not federal law, so the rules can vary a great deal from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in New Jersey and Oregon, there are no laws stating that a convicted felon can't serve as executor of an estate. In New Jersey, this applies even if the named executor is still in jail when the testator dies.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Governor Hochul for signing my legislation into law. The new law is essential to grieving families who have a family member prohibited from acting as an executor due to his or her conviction after paying their debt to society. Unfair and unjust prohibition under previous statute should not play a part in grief-stricken family’s decisions to finalize their estates.” said Assemblyman Charles D. Fall.