Is probate necessary if the estate is small? This is a very important question to ask when a death has occurred. Probate is a complicated, costly, and lengthy process which has to occur after most deaths. If probate can be avoided, family members can inherit more quickly, money can be saved, and the stress of lengthy court proceedings can be avoided.
Fortunately, the answer to the question, is probate necessary for a small estate, is no. Probate is not necessarily going to be required if the person who passed away left behind only a very limited amount of money. Mark S. Eghrari & Associates PLLC can provide you with help in determining if the probate process is necessary after your loved one passed away.
Our firm also offers assistance in the creation of a comprehensive estate plan that makes it possible for you to transfer assets outside of the probate process so your family can avoid probate, even if you have a larger amount of wealth to transfer. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can assist you in making your probate avoidance plans.
Is Probate Necessary for Small Estates?
Probate is necessary for the majority of estates in New York, but not for all estates. The website of the New York State Unified Court System explains an alternative to the probate process which is available in some cases when a person leaves behind a very small estate.
A person who passes away is called a decedent. If a decedent had less than $30,000 in personal property, the estate of the decedent can be classified as a small estate under New York law. When an estate meets the legal definition of a small estate, the probate process is not required. Instead, the voluntary administration process can be used. The voluntary administration process can be utilized regardless of whether or not the decedent had a will or whether intestacy law is going to determine who inherits the property that was left behind.
If there is a chance that a wrongful death claim could be filed or another lawsuit could be filed on behalf of the estate, then the voluntary administration process should not be used and instead going through the probate process will become necessary.
If any real property was owned by the decedent, such as land or a home, then the estate also cannot be considered a small estate regardless of how much the land was worth. However, there is an exception to this general rule. If the decedent owned the real property jointly with another person, and had less than $30,000 in personal property that he or she owned, then it is possible for the estate to be considered a small estate and for the voluntary administration process to be used.
Is Probate Necessary if You Are Leaving A Larger Estate?
If your estate is too large for voluntary administration, your family is going to be stuck going through the probate process unless you have made plans in advance to facilitate the transfer of assets outside of probate. An estate planning lawyer can provide you with assistance in finding ways to allow your family to avoid probate, including the use of various types of trusts; making inter vivos gifts; and using pay-on-death accounts.
If you want to make an estate plan to avoid the probate process, you should begin your planning early. It can take time to create trusts and use other legal tools that facilitate the transfer outside of probate. You never know when you will suffer an illness or injury, or whether you will pass away unexpectedly. If you have made plans in advance, you will have the peace of mind of knowing your family is protected, even if something happens to you unexpectedly.
Getting Help from A Long Island Probate Lawyer
A Long Island probate lawyer can provide you with invaluable assistance in making an estate plan to help your family avoid the probate process or to minimize the assets that must transfer through probate. To find out more about how the estate planning process can work for you, download our estate planning checklist.
We also offer representation after a death. We assist the executor of an estate, heirs or beneficiaries, and other family members as they go through the voluntary administration process for small estates or as they go through the probate process. Give us a call at (631) 265-0599 or contact us online to find out more about the ways in which our legal team can assist you.