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Probate Property in New York

New York estate law governs the transfer of a decedent's property after their death. In general, probate property is property that is subject to the jurisdiction of the Surrogate's Court for the purpose of administering an estate. The Surrogate's Court oversees the distribution of a decedent's probate property to their heirs or beneficiaries. However, not all property owned by a decedent is considered probate property, and the distinction between probate and non-probate property can have significant implications for the administration of an estate. If you a personal representative, beneficiary, heir, or have an interest in an estate for some other reason, it’s important to understand the distinction between probate and nonprobate property. Contact an experienced New York probate lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates to discuss the matter. With over 20 years of experience representing clients in complex estate matters, we are here to help.

Probate Property in New York

In New York, probate property typically includes all assets that were solely owned by the deceased person at the time of their death. This can include real estate, bank accounts, investment accounts, personal property, and other assets that are titled in the deceased person's name. Probate property does not include assets that were jointly owned with a right of survivorship or that pass directly to a beneficiary outside of the probate process, such as life insurance policies, retirement accounts, or payable-on-death bank accounts. If you have questions about whether a specific type of property is considered probate property, contact an experienced New York probate lawyer.

Probate Process in New York

The probate process in New York begins when the executor of the decedent’s will files a petition with the Surrogate's Court in the county where the deceased person lived. The court will then issue letters testamentary, which give the executor the legal authority to manage and distribute the deceased person's assets. If the deceased person died without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate and distribute the assets according to the state's intestacy laws.

The executor or administrator is responsible for identifying and valuing the deceased person's probate property, paying any debts and taxes owed by the estate, and distributing the remaining assets to the deceased person's beneficiaries according to their will or according to the state's intestacy laws. The executor or administrator must also file a final tax return for the deceased person and an estate tax return if the estate is large enough to be subject to estate taxes.

The probate and administration process can be a complicated and time-consuming process, particularly if there are disputes or challenges to the validity of the will. It is important to work with an experienced probate attorney in New York who can guide you through the process and help you navigate any legal issues that may arise.

Notable New York Probate Property Cases
  • In re Hart, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 3180 (N.Y. App. Div. 2021)- In a probate dispute involving the estate of Clifford J. Hart, Meryl Brown sought an accounting and claimed entitlement to various assets, including a condominium and personal items, as specified in a Property Agreement. The Surrogate's Court granted Brown's motion for summary judgment, affirming her ownership of household items and the decedent's 50% interest in the condominium, which, according to the court, became an asset of the Trust. The court also recognized the Property Agreement's authority in determining the disposition of probate property, specifically personal items. The ruling emphasized the appellants' failure to raise triable issues, underscoring the significance of probate property in settling estate matters.
  • MURY v. ALLEN, 2010 N.Y. Slip Op. 52165 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2010). The case involves a dispute over the IRA of the late Henry Marcuse, who designated defendant Audrey Allen as the beneficiary weeks before his death. Cecile Mury, the alleged former French mistress of Marcuse, challenges this designation, claiming she is the heir to Marcuse's entire estate. The court assesses whether Mury has standing to contest the Beneficiary Change Request. The disagreement centers on whether the original Bank of New York (BNY) IRA or the successor Chase Investment Services Corp. (CISC) IRA governs the funds. The court emphasizes that an IRA with a designated beneficiary is not probate property, and the terms of the IRA Adoption Agreement determine standing. While defendant argues that the unsigned CISC Agreement is unenforceable, the court finds that the issue requires further exploration, and Mury's standing is not conclusively disproven.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Probate property in New York refers to assets and property that are subject to the probate process after a person dies. The probate process can be complex and time-consuming, particularly if there are disputes or challenges to the validity of the will. It is important to work with an experienced probate attorney serving New York who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected. If you have questions or concerns about probate property in New York 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.

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