New York Probate
Whether you are planning for your own future, or you have recently lost a loved one, you may have heard the term Probate used, but have not been sure what it exactly means. Often during the Estate Planning process, you may have been advised to have certain documents as part of your estate plan, such as a Trust, in order to “avoid probate.” It is true; there are some simple ways to avoid Probate in some cases, while in other instances it is inevitable. Probate is a legal court process, the usually involves a great deal of paperwork that will be completed and filed with the Probate court (called the surrogates court in New York). The end result of probate is that the estate will be wound up and the assets distributed to the heirs. This can be a complicated process at times and it is wise to enlist the help of a New York Probate Lawyer to help you navigate through the process.
If you have recently lost a loved one, the first step towards dealing with their estate is to locate their Last Will and Testament. This document is important for many reasons, one of which it will determine how the Estate Administration process will be handled. If you are able to locate a Will, your New York Estate Lawyer will file the Will and a petition with the surrogate’s court. This is only the beginning, as the court could require a great deal of additional paperwork. The court requires that the Will be filed so that it may be verified as authentic. It is not uncommon for family members to come forward and challenge the authenticity of a Will or other estate planning document. This is known as a Will Contest, which can not only be emotionally stressful, it can also complicate the Estate Administration process considerably. Once the court has received all the paperwork, it will issue a document called Letters of Testamentary and it will appoint an executor of the estate. The executor is often a spouse, family member or close friend, who will assume the task of managing the assets of the estate, pay any outstanding debts, and distribute the assets to the heirs.
If there is no valid Will in existence, the case will be handled differently. Your New York Probate Attorney will file the same amount of paperwork with the court, in addition to an administration petition. The court will issue a document called letters of administration, and appoint an estate administrator. The job of the administrator will be much in the same as the tasks of the executor mentioned above. An estate executor or administrator will protect and preserve the estate, which can include handling bank accounts, investments, cars, and homes. This job carries with it a high degree of responsibility. Failure to act responsibly and with the utmost care can result in an action against the administrator or executor for negligence or mismanagement.
Dealing with the passing of a loved one is never easy. It is important to not handle these matters without the assistance of a qualified New York Probate Lawyer. Whether you are currently embroiled in a Probate Litigation matter, attempting to handle your loved one’s estate, or need Estate Planning documents of your own such as a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney, contact the office of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC. We can offer you guidance as well as a free case consultation. Wherever you are in New York, chances are there is an office located nearby. We have locations throughout New York City, including all five boroughs, as well as Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County. Contact us today to make your appointment at 800.696.9529.