How does Probate Work?

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are transferred to their beneficiaries and heirs. It can be a complex and time-consuming process, but understanding how probate works can help you plan ahead and prepare for the future.

New York State Surrogates Court

In New York, when a person passes away, the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the deceased person lived is responsible for verifying the validity of the will. The court will review the will to ensure that it meets the legal requirements for a valid will in New York.

What makes a will valid?

To be considered a valid will in New York, the will must be in writing and signed by the person making the will (the “testator”) and at least two witnesses who were present when the testator signed the will. The witnesses must also sign the will in the presence of the testator.

If the will is self-proving, meaning it includes a statement signed by the testator and witnesses that meets the legal requirements for a self-proving affidavit, the court may accept the will without further verification.

If the will is not self-proving, the court may require that the witnesses appear in court to testify about the circumstances surrounding the signing of the will. The court may also require other evidence to verify the validity of the will, such as medical records or other documents.

What happens after a will is confirmed valid?

Once the court verifies the validity of the will, it will be admitted to probate and the executor named in the will or appointed by the court will be responsible for administering the estate.

Next, the court will oversee the payment of any outstanding debts, taxes, or claims against the estate. This may involve selling assets to pay off debts or negotiating with creditors to reduce or forgive the debt. Once all debts and taxes are paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries and heirs.

What if there is no Will?

If there is no will, the distribution of assets will be determined by state law. In this case, the court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of assets based on New York’s intestacy laws.

Probate in New York can be a lengthy and expensive process, and it may involve court fees, attorney’s fees, and other administrative costs. In addition, probate can be emotionally difficult for the deceased person’s loved ones, as it can delay the distribution of assets and prolong the grieving process.

To avoid probate in New York, many people choose to create a living trust. A living trust allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you’re still alive. When you die, the assets in the trust are distributed to your beneficiaries without going through probate.

In summary, probate in New York is the legal process by which a deceased person’s assets are transferred to their beneficiaries and heirs. While it can be a complex and time-consuming process, there are ways to avoid probate in New York. It’s important to work with an experienced estate planning attorney in New York to determine the best approach for your individual situation and to plan ahead to ensure your legacy is protected.

About Jay P. Sheryll, Esq.

Jay and his team help their clients leave a legacy and achieve the peace of mind of knowing that they can protect their families if something happens to them. Sheryll Law, P.C., understands that their clients have worked hard to build their legacy. It is their pleasure to help them leave their money to their loved ones according to their wishes. Having observed other firms haphazardly draft wills and throw together some powers-of-attorney without any thought to the planning aspect, Jay realized he could fulfill a need for East End Long Island clients.

Contact Sheryll Law, P.C., for Your Probate and Estate Planning Needs

The estate planning and probate attorneys at Sheryll Law, P.C., can handle all your estate administration duties, beginning with inventorying the assets and ending with distributing property to the rightful beneficiaries. Our experienced legal team will ensure the estate is administered as seamlessly and stress-free as possible. Ready to secure your future and the future of your loved ones? Contact us at (631) 518-3093 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.

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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Sheryll Law, P.C.
633 East Main Street, Suite 2
Riverhead, NY 11901
(631) 518-3093