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Will Probate in New York

When a loved one passes away, their will must be probated in order to legally distribute their assets to their beneficiaries. In New York, this process takes place in the Surrogate's Court of the county where the decedent resided. The probate process involves proving the validity of the will, identifying and valuing the assets of the estate, paying any outstanding debts or taxes, and ultimately distributing the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, our skilled New York probate lawyers can guide you through every step of the probate process and ensure that your loved one's wishes are carried out in accordance with the law.

Process of Probating a Will

The first step in the probate process is to file a petition with the Surrogate's Court to admit the will to probate. This petition must be accompanied by the original will, as well as a death certificate and other supporting documentation. The Surrogate's Court will then review the will and determine whether it meets the legal requirements for validity.

Under New York law, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and witnessed by at least two competent people who were present at the same time as the testator when they signed the will. The witnesses must also sign the will in the presence of the testator.

If the will is found to be valid, the court will appoint an executor to manage the estate. The executor is responsible for identifying and valuing the assets of the estate, paying any outstanding debts or taxes, and ultimately distributing the assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. If the decedent did not name an executor in their will, the court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate.

Under New York law, the executor or administrator must provide notice of the probate proceeding to all of the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries, as well as any other interested parties. This notice must be published in a local newspaper and sent by mail to the known addresses of the heirs and beneficiaries.

Once the notice has been given, the executor or administrator can begin to manage the assets of the estate. They may need to sell property, pay off debts, or resolve any legal disputes that arise during the probate process. The executor or administrator is also responsible for filing tax returns for the estate and paying any taxes owed.

Once all of the debts and taxes have been paid, the executor or administrator can distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will. If there are any disputes among the beneficiaries or other interested parties, the court may need to resolve these issues before the assets can be distributed.

Under New York law, the probate process can take several months or even years to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate and any legal challenges that arise. However, working with an experienced New York probate lawyer can help to streamline the process and ensure that your loved one's wishes are carried out in a timely and efficient manner.

Notable New York Cases About Will Probate
  • Matter of Estate of Becker, 4 N.Y.3d 21 (N.Y. 2004). In this case, the testator executed a will and then subsequently executed a codicil that was not properly executed in accordance with New York law. The court found that the codicil was invalid and that the testator's will should be admitted to probate without the changes made in the invalid codicil.
  • Matter of Estate of Rothko, 43 N.Y.2d 305 (N.Y. 1977). In this case, the will of the famous artist Mark Rothko was contested by his children, who argued that the will was not properly executed and that their father was under duress when he signed it. The court found that the will was valid and admitted it to probate, resolving a highly publicized and contentious dispute.
  • Matter of Estate of Krasner, 845 N.Y.S.2d 548 (N.Y. App. Div. 2007). In this case, the executor of the estate failed to disclose the existence of a subsequent will that was executed by the decedent before their death. The court found that the executor had acted in bad faith and ordered the admission of the later will to probate, rather than the earlier will that had been presented by the executor.
  • Matter of Estate of Johnson, 752 N.Y.S.2d 487 (N.Y. App. Div. 2003). In this case, the decedent's will was contested by one of the beneficiaries, who argued that the will was the result of undue influence by another beneficiary. The court found that there was sufficient evidence of undue influence and denied probate of the will, which had the effect of distributing the estate in accordance with the state's intestacy laws.

These cases illustrate the complexity of will probate in New York and the importance of having experienced legal representation throughout the process. Whether you are an executor, beneficiary, or interested party, it is crucial to have skilled probate attorney in New York who can guide you through the probate process and advocate for your interests in court.

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, our skilled probate attorneys serving New York have years of experience navigating the probate process in New York. We understand the challenges that can arise during this difficult time and are committed to providing you with the guidance and support you need to manage your loved one's estate with care and compassion. 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