If a loved one recently passed away, you are likely still going through the grieving process. The last thing you may want to think about is probating the decedent’s estate. Someone, however, must oversee the probate of the estate. If you were named in the decedent’s Will as the Executor of the estate, the decedent trusted you to handle his/her estate. If the decedent died in testate (without a Will), you may be the logical choice to handle the administration of the estate. Either way, the Long Island probate attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm discuss what to expect when navigating the New York probate process.
What Is Probate?
When an individual passes away, they leave behind an estate that is comprised of all the assets owned by the decedent at the time of death, including things such as financial accounts, real property (such as a home), stocks and bonds, vehicles, and valuable collectibles. Ultimately, all those assets will be transferred to the new owners; however, the law requires certain steps to be taken before that happens. Those steps occur during the legal process known as probate.
What to Expect While Navigating the New York Probate Process
Proving the authenticity of the decedent’s Last Will and Testament (if one was left behind) is one of the many steps that must occur during the New York probate process. If someone contests the validity of the Will submitted for probate, that issue must be litigated before probate can move forward. To get probate started, the person named as the Executor in the Will files the original Will and a certified death certificate along with a probate petition in the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent had their primary residence. The decedent’s Will is used to determine how assets are distributed based on the gifts made to beneficiaries under the terms of that Will.
If the decedent died intestate (without a Will), the legal process that eventually distributes estate assets is New York is referred to as “administration.” New York law dictates that the person closest to the decedent should begin the administration process and oversee that process. In an intestate estate administration, the New York intestate succession laws determine how the decedent’s assets are distributed and to whom. Typically, only close relatives (including a spouse) will inherit assets from an intestate estate.
The next step in the New York probate process is to provide notice to all beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors of the estate that probate is underway. For unknown creditors, you will publish notice in a local newspaper. If you are acting as Executor, you should also take an inventory of estate assets, paying close attention to whether each asset is considered a probate or a non-probate asset. Non-probate assets bypass probate altogether and may be distributed to the beneficiary immediately. Common examples include trust assets, certain types of jointly owned property, and retirement accounts.
Creditor claims must be reviewed and approved or denied. For approved claims, the Executor must pay those claims before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries. Estate taxes, both federal and state, must also be paid using estate assets. If the estate lacks sufficient assets to pay all claims, claims must be paid in order of priority according to New York law. Only when you are certain that all debts of the estate, including taxes and costs related to administering the estate, have been paid can the remaining assets be legally transferred to beneficiaries and/or heirs.
Do You Need Help Navigating New York Probate?
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about navigating the New York probate process, contact the Long Island probate attorneys at Eghrari Wealth Training Firm by calling us at 631-265-0599 to schedule your appointment.
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