Warning To Brooklyn Residents, Property Owners Who Die Without A Will Or Next Of Kin: The Institutional Grave-Robbing Of Dead New Yorkers Continues, So Prepare To Be Fleeced!
In Brooklyn, New York, the New York Post reports:
- They’ve done a ghastly job.
Public administrators responsible for the estates of people who die in Brooklyn mishandled more than $2.2 million in assets — losing a fur coat and forgetting to collect $50,000 in cash, an audit has found.
Among its missteps, the Kings County Public Administrator’s Office left $50,000 it knew about sitting in a safe-deposit box for five years and failed to credit an estate after selling a six-family home for $140,000, said a report by Comptroller John Liu. The $50,000 in cash was claimed only after auditors pointed it out.
The administrator’s office, which deals with estates of those who die without wills or next of kin, also misplaced a $1,000 fur coat it had stored in a vault at the Macy’s in Kings Plaza back in 2004. When auditors asked what happened to the coat, administrator staffers frankly admitted, “We have no idea what happened regarding the fur coat.”
This was the same office where a bookkeeper was indicted last year in the theft of $2.6 million from the deceased.
“The missing valuables and cash uncovered by this audit read like a blooper reel,” said Liu, a mayoral candidate dogged by campaign irregularities. “It would be funny if the Brooklyn public administrator wasn’t responsible for protecting estates worth millions of dollars. They need to show they are capable of safeguarding the estates entrusted to their care.”
His audit identified the mishandling of assets in more than half of the 50 estates that were examined.
But the administrator’s office had been responsible for more than 3,300 estates, valued at nearly $75 million, as of June 2011.
Public Administrator Bruce Stein wrote a six-page response to Liu’s audit with an item-by-item refutation of its findings. He blasted a chart detailing the minimum $2.2 million in mishandled assets as “riddled with errors” and full of “false information.” He also charged that Liu’s auditors had a “complete lack of understanding of the authority of the public administrator and our handling of estate matters.”
Stein’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But Liu’s audit found plenty of other concerns with Stein’s office, including its charging of excessive legal fees, poor record-keeping and slow pace at closing estate cases. More than 92 percent of estates hadn’t been fully distributed within two years.
Liu also noted that the administrator failed to deactivate information-sensitive user accounts for seven former staffers — including the one charged with swindling $2.6 million by writing fraudulent checks.
For earlier stories on the fleecing of dead New Yorkers, see:
- How insiders snatch millions from estates in the scandal-scarred Surrogate Courts,
- NYC Controller Urges All Brooklyn Residents To "Make Out A Will ASAP!" To Avoid Risk Of Getting Fleeced By Public Administrator's Office,
- Were Funds Pilfered from a Retired Judge’s Estate? (Supporters Say Accounting Should Reopen Criminal Probe).
- Wringing Out The Dead In Brooklyn (If there's no will, court grabs big hunk of estate):
"Don't get caught dead in Brooklyn without a will. If you do, a sizable hunk of your earthly assets is likely to wind up in the pockets of bureaucrats and well-connected insiders instead of your rightful heirs. A Daily News investigation of 80 estates administered by Brooklyn's Surrogate Court found that in those worth $100,000 or more, 24% of the assets ended up in the coffers of the city, the court, the court's public administrator and her counsel - or a lineup of Brooklyn subcontractors. When it comes to profiting from the estates of the dead who haven't left wills, officials familiar with surrogate courts in other boroughs say, Brooklyn is in a league of its own."
- 3 in Surrogate's Office Charged With Thefts (June 29, 1988),
- Wider Inquiry Into Stealing From the Dead (February 3, 1988).