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New York Probate Lawyer

Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person in accordance with the law. The probate process involves identifying and gathering the deceased person's assets, paying off any outstanding debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries or heirs. In the state of New York, the probate process is overseen by the Surrogate's Court, which is a specialized court that handles probate and estate administration matters. The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, and it is important to work with an experienced probate attorney to ensure that everything is handled properly. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates our New York probate lawyers have years of experience in assisting clients with the probate process in New York. We are dedicated to helping our clients navigate the legal requirements of the Surrogate's Court and ensuring that their rights and interests are protected throughout the process.

Probate Process in New York

The following is a summary of the key steps in the probate process.

  • File Petition and Appointment Executor. The first step in the probate process is to file a petition with the Surrogate's Court. The petition must include the original will, if there is one, and a death certificate. The court will then issue letters testamentary, which give the executor of the will the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
  • Gather Assets and Pay Debts. Once the executor has been appointed, they must gather and manage the assets of the estate. This may include bank accounts, investments, real estate, and personal property. The executor must also pay off any debts owed by the deceased person, including funeral expenses, taxes, and other liabilities.
  • Distribute Assets. After the debts have been paid and the assets have been gathered, the executor must distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. If the deceased person did not leave a will, the assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy in New York.

Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process, and it is important to work with experienced legal representation to ensure that everything is handled properly. In addition to assisting with the probate process, an experienced New York probate lawyer can also help with other estate-related matters, such as trust administration and estate planning.

Notable New York Cases About Probate

The following cases illustrate some of the key issues that can arise in the probate process in New York, including challenges to the validity of a will, breaches of fiduciary duties by executors, and the importance of ensuring that the decedent had the requisite mental capacity to execute a valid will. An experienced probate attorney in New York can help you navigate these complex issues and ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the probate process.

  • Matter of Neveloff, 217 A.D.2d 512 (2d Dept. 1995). In this case, the court held that a decedent's handwritten document was a valid will under New York law, despite the fact that it did not meet the usual formal requirements for a will. The court emphasized that the primary goal of probate is to give effect to the decedent's wishes, and that formalities should not be used to frustrate that goal.
  • Matter of Spence, 10 N.Y.3d 60 (2008). This case involved a challenge to the validity of a will based on allegations of undue influence. The court reaffirmed the principle that the burden of proving undue influence is on the party challenging the will, and that mere suspicion or speculation is not enough to meet that burden.
  • Matter of Estate of Becker, 94 A.D.3d 756 (2d Dept. 2012). In this case, the court held that the decedent's executor breached his fiduciary duties by distributing assets to himself without obtaining court approval. The court emphasized the importance of transparency and court oversight in the probate process to prevent self-dealing and other forms of misconduct.
  • Matter of Estate of Young, 2019 NY Slip Op 50300(U) (Sur. Ct. 2019). This case involved a dispute over the validity of a will based on the alleged lack of testamentary capacity of the decedent. The court held that the decedent had sufficient testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed, despite evidence of cognitive decline and other health issues. The court emphasized the importance of a thorough examination of the decedent's mental state and capacity in cases involving challenges to the validity of a will.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

At our Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we have years of experience in assisting clients with the probate process in New York. Our experienced probate attorneys serving New York are knowledgeable, compassionate, and dedicated to helping you navigate the process with as little stress and confusion as possible. We will work closely with you throughout the process, providing guidance and advice at every step. In addition to our expertise in probate law, we offer a range of services related to estate planning, trust administration, and more. Whether you need help drafting a will or creating a trust, we are here to help you protect your assets and ensure that your wishes are carried out after you pass away. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates 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.

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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