Opinion 89-118

October 24, 1989

Please Note: The rules were changed in 1996. Section 100.4(E)(1) now provides: 

(1) A full-time judge shall not serve as executor, administrator or other personal representative, trustee, guardian, attorney in fact or other fiduciary, designated by an instrument executed after January 1, 1974, except for the estate, trust or person of a member of the judge's family, or, with the approval of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, a person not a member of the judge's family with whom the judge has maintained a longstanding personal relationship of trust and confidence, and then only if such services will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.


Digest:         A judge may not serve as the executor of the estate of a close family friend.


Rules:          22 NYCRR 100.5(d)


         A judge inquires whether he may properly serve as executor of an estate of a close family friend, with whom he has socialized for many years. Their parents were neighbors and close friends, the judge handled legal matters for the family, and the decedent consulted him on personal matters. The decedent had no brothers or sisters, and is survived only by cousins. He chose the judge as the executor of his estate despite the judge’s suggestion that he name someone else.

         Section 100.5 (d) of the Rules of the Chief Administrator provides that a judge may only serve as executor of an estate of a family member which includes “a spouse, child, grandchild, parent, grandparent or other relative or person with whom the judge maintains a close familial relationship.”

         The Committee is constrained, under the present rules, to find that the relationship described here is not close enough to demonstrate a family relationship. Accordingly, the judge may not serve as executor of the estate.