Message from the Public Administrator

Commissioner Anthony Catalano

Thank you for visiting the Richmond County Public Administrator’s website.  As a public official and a New York City Commissioner, the Public Administrator is accountable to the people of Staten Island, and to their elected Surrogate judge, for the administration of estates of those who have no one else to do so after their death.  Typically, I administer estates in which the decedents left no will; that is, they died intestate, and have no family member who is eligible and qualified to serve as administrator.  However, there are circumstances in which the Public Administrator may be appointed to administer a decedent’s estate even though a will and/or an eligible and qualified administrator exist.

To administer an estate is to manage the money, property, and indebtedness of someone who has died.  In doing so, public administrators act as fiduciaries.  In other words, we are bound by law to exercise a standard of care in such management activity.  That standard of care prohibits us, for example, from investing the money or property in a manner that is speculative, or otherwise imprudent.

Specifically, the duties of a public administrator include protecting the decedent’s property from waste, loss and theft; making appropriate burial arrangements when no close relative is available to make the decisions; conducting thorough investigations to discover all assets; liquidating assets at estate sales or distributing assets to heirs; paying the decedent’s bills and taxes; and locating persons entitled to inherit from the estate and ensuring that the legal distributees receive their inheritance.

In addition to providing information about the role of a public administrator, I hope you find this website useful in learning about our wide array of outside vendor opportunities.  The vendors help me manage the assets that have been entrusted to my care.  There are also sections with information about our estate sales, and about the burials we oversee.  Ensuring a dignified burial for each Staten Island resident whose estate I administer is of paramount importance.  For this reason, I avoid the mass burial of Staten Islanders on Hart Island, the “potter’s field” or pauper’s burial ground for New York City.

Guaranteeing dignity in the disposition of remains, and transparency and accountability in the administration of estates are my top priorities.  Other areas of interest include the following:

  1. Ensuring the elderly, and other vulnerable communities, have access to adequate estate planning, such as wills, health care proxies, powers of attorney, funeral pre-plans and disposition of remains;
  2. Ensuring veterans receive the end-of-life benefits to which they are entitled, especially burial with military honors;
  3. Promoting organ donation;
  4. Ensuring the dignified burial of indigents and still births;
  5. Educating the elderly, and other vulnerable communities, about financial and physical abuse, and coordinating an effective response, along with our partners (banks, Community Agency for Senior Citizens (CASC), NYC Adult Protective Services (APS), and law enforcement authorities (police and prosecutors);
  6. Helping Staten Islanders claim funds currently held by the State;
  7. Promoting healthy grieving with our partner Camp Good Grief, and others.

If your community group or organization would like me to address you on any of the above topics, please contact the office.  Also, if you have questions or comments about using this website, or suggestions for its improvement, we welcome your feedback.

 

Honorable Anthony Catalano
Commissioner
Public Administrator, Richmond County

 

"Show me the manner in which a nation or community cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness the tender sympathies of its people, their respect for the laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals."
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898)