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Long Island Estate Probate

Probate is the legal proceeding in the New York Surrogate’s Court during which a will is validated and the executor is appointed. Once a will is admitted to probate, the probate administration process can begin. Probate administration is the process during which a decedent’s affairs are settled and his (or her) property is distributed to his beneficiaries. If the decedent passed away intestate, meaning without a will, the process is commonly referred to as estate administration. However, the terms are frequently used interchangeably. The process of administration applies only to property that is part of the decedent’s probate estate. All other property in which the decedent had an interest is passed to beneficiaries outside of probate administration based on the type of property. If you have questions about the estate administration of a loved one’s estate, contact a Long Island estate probate attorney with experience before the Surrogate’s Court.

Definition of probate estate

A probate estate is the property owned by the decedent that is subject to probate. It is the property that the decedent can legally distribute through his (or her) will. Generally speaking, it refers to any property that the decedent owned individually and that does not have a designated beneficiary. It also includes the interest that the decedent had in property that he co-owned as a tenant in common. Property that is not part of a decedent’s probate estate includes property that the decedent co-owned as a joint tenant, property that the decedent transferred to a living trust, and property that has a designated beneficiary such as an insurance policy or retirement account. If you have questions about what will happen to your non-probate property, contact an experienced Long Island estate probate lawyer to discuss your concerns.

Steps in probate

If the decedent died testate, the executor is the person responsible for managing the estate, while if the decedent died intestate, the estate administrator is responsible. The steps are similar whether there is a will or not: collecting estate assets, paying estate bills, and distributing assets. Each of these steps involves a number of activities, and can involve complications that can extend the process.

  • Collecting estate assets. The executor must locate and secure estate property. This may involve securing the decedent’s residence, inventorying the property in it, locating his vehicle, and identifying financial accounts. It is important that the executor have an accurate valuation of the value of the estate. It may be necessary to hire a professional appraiser for unusual property or high value property.
  • Paying estate bills. Estate debts must be paid for before the assets can be distributed to beneficiaries. Estate debt and expenses include taxes, funeral and burial expenses, expenses related to estate administration, and creditor claims. If there are not enough liquid assets to pay estate expenses, the executor may be required to sell assets.
  • Distributing assets. The final major step in the process is for the executor to distribute the assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Problems during administration

As an experienced estate probate attorney in Long Island can explain, there are several problems that may arise during the administration of an estate such as estate litigation. Beneficiaries may be dissatisfied with their distributions. Family members who received nothing may decide to contest the will. There may be objections to the manner in which the executor managed the estate or to the fees and expenses he requests to be paid out of estate assets. Third parties may file claims against the estate, leading to lengthy and expensive estate litigation.

Other problems may occur because there are insufficient assets to distribute to beneficiaries or certain assets are no longer part of the estate. Or there may be beneficiaries that predecease the testator.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are an executor, beneficiary, or other partying who has an interest in an estate, and you have questions related to the probate process, it is important that you discuss the matter with someone with experience. Many complications and problems that often arise during probate can be avoided or minimized with the help of a skilled estate probate attorney serving Long Island. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have extensive experience representing individuals, executors, and administrators in matters estates, including estate administration and estate litigation. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
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