December 14, 1995
Digest: A judge may serve as executor of the estate of the aunt of the judge's spouse where there existed a close familial relationship between the judge and the decedent.
Rule: 22 NYCRR 100.5(d)
A full-time judge asks whether he/she may serve as executor of the estate of his/her spouse's aunt. Section 100.5(d) of the Rules Governing Justice Conduct permits a judge to serve as a fiduciary for the estate of a member of his or her family. Under the Rule, "Members of his or her family" includes a "person with whom the judge maintains a close familial relationship." The inquirer states that just such a relationship existed between the decedent and the judge.
Under such circumstances, the inquirer may serve as executor. Notification to the Chief Administrator of the Courts does not seem to be required where the judge is acting as a fiduciary on behalf of a member of the judge's family, although prudence may dictate that approval of the Chief Administrator be sought where the party involved is not a relative of the judge.