The Second Department determined plaintiffs, who were beneficiaries of decedent's estate, did not have standing to bring an action seeking to recover and preserve an asset allegedly wrongfully diverted from decedent's estate prior to her death. Only a personal representative of the estate could bring the action:
EPTL 11-3.2(b) provides that a cause of action for injury to person or property is not lost because of the death of the person in whose favor the cause of action existed, as the cause of action may be commenced or continued by the decedent's personal representative. “[A] beneficiary, absent extraordinary circumstances . . . , cannot act on behalf of [an] estate or exercise [a] fiduciary's rights with respect to estate property” … . Rather, “[t]he appropriate avenue is to be appointed a representative pursuant to the requirements of the EPTL” … .
Here, the Supreme Court correctly determined that the plaintiffs lacked standing to commence an action to recover and preserve an asset alleged to have been wrongfully diverted from the decedent's estate prior to her death … . The plaintiffs, as individual beneficiaries of the decedent's estate, had no independent right to maintain an independent cause of action for the recovery of estate property, as such a right belonged to the personal representative of the decedent's estate … . Stallsworth v Stallsworth, 2016 NY Slip Op 03161, 2nd Dept 4-27-16