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Estate Probate in New York

Estate probate in New York is a legal process that involves the administration of a deceased person's estate. It is the process by which a court supervises the distribution of a decedent's assets according to their will or the laws of intestacy. This involves the appointment of a representative, the identification of assets and creditors, the payment of debts, and the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. If you have questions about estate probate and the administration of a loved one’s estate, contact a skilled New York probate lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience, our team has the knowledge and resources to help.

Steps in the Estate Probate and Administration Process

The following are the key steps in the estate probate process in New York:

  • Filing a Petition for Probate: The first step in the probate process is to file a petition for probate with the Surrogate's Court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death. The petition will include information about the decedent, their will (if there is one), and the proposed representative. Note that if the decedent did not leave a will, contact an experienced New York probate lawyer to explain the steps to initiate the administration process.
  • Appointment of a Representative: The court will appoint a representative, also known as an executor or administrator, to administer the estate. The representative is responsible for managing the estate, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries.
  • Identification of Assets and Creditors: The representative is responsible for identifying and gathering all of the decedent's assets, including bank accounts, investments, real estate, and personal property. They must also identify and notify all of the decedent's creditors, including any outstanding debts or liabilities.
  • Payment of Debts and Taxes: The representative is responsible for paying all outstanding debts and taxes owed by the decedent and the estate. This includes filing tax returns and paying any taxes owed, as well as settling outstanding bills or debts.
  • Distribution of Assets: Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the representative can distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the will or the laws of intestacy.

It is worth noting that not all estates require probate. If the decedent's assets were held in joint tenancy or a trust, for example, the assets may pass directly to the surviving joint tenant or trustee without the need for probate.

Types of Probate in New York

In New York, there are two types of probate: formal probate and voluntary administration. Formal probate is the traditional probate process, which involves court supervision and is required in most cases. Voluntary administration is a simplified probate process that is available for small estates, with assets of less than $30,000. To learn more about the small estate process and to find if your loved one’s estate qualifies, contact a knowledgeable probate attorney in New York.

Notable New York Cases About Estate Probate
  • In re Eshaghian, 54 A.D.3d 860, 2008 N.Y. Slip Op. 6990, 863 N.Y.S.2d 781 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008). - In the case involving the probate of Eshagh Eshaghian's last will and testament and codicil, Mahrokh Eshaghian and Tanaz Eshaghian appealed the Surrogate's Court's order granting Joseph Eshaghian's motion for leave to file objections to the codicil. The court reversed this decision, deeming Joseph's allegations of the decedent's lack of testamentary capacity and susceptibility to undue influence as conclusory and speculative, lacking substantial grounds for objection. The court highlighted the neurologist's report's shortcomings, emphasizing its reliance on medical records and a conversation with the decedent's brother rather than direct examination.
  • Sylvia Dubin Joan Levine, 54 A.D.3d 945 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008). Joan Levine objected to the probate of Sylvia Dubin's last will and testament and a codicil on the grounds of undue influence and fraud. Levine alleged that the documents were the product of undue influence exerted on the decedent, Sylvia Dubin, and that fraudulent actions were involved in their creation and execution. Specifically, Levine claimed that an "overall atmosphere" of undue influence surrounded the situation, citing rumors that the petitioners (Susan and Richard Brooks) or their mother might have exaggerated the amount of money she had inherited from her deceased mother, Mollie Levine. Additionally, Levine raised concerns about the execution of the will at the offices of Proskauer Rose LLP, where Bradley Ruskin, the husband of petitioner Susan Brooks, worked as a partner. She argued that this proximity raised suspicions of undue influence. However, the court found these objections to be speculative and lacking specific instances of undue influence or fraud. Levine's concerns about the overall atmosphere and the involvement of Proskauer Rose LLP were not deemed sufficient to raise a triable issue of fact. The court concluded that the objectant failed to provide substantial evidence supporting the objections.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Estate probate is a crucial process for administering a deceased person's estate in New York. It involves the appointment of a representative, the identification of assets and creditors, the payment of debts and taxes, and the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. If you have questions or concerns about the estate probate process in New York, it is recommended that you consult with a knowledgeable probate attorney serving New York who can provide legal guidance and support. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, 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.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin