Probate and Estate Administration
When a loved one passes on, it is stressful and hard to know where to turn for advice as to what to do. We have probated hundreds of estates, and have done numerous administration proceedings for those dying without Wills.
A Will can only be “activated” by a probate proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court. Even though you name an executor in your Will, the court has to appoint that executor before they are entitled to act on behalf of the estate- collect your assets, pay your last bills, and distribute your property the way that you directed. Probate takes about a year, because there is a large amount of paperwork and documentation required before things can be done. It takes several months to have the executor appointed. Nothing can be done with the assets during this time period. Creditors then have 7 months after the executor is appointed to present claims against the estate, so it is not safe to distribute the assets before that time period passes. There is an accounting that must be made by the executor of the assets that came into the estate and what bills where paid and what will be distributed to the heirs. There are receipts and releases that must be signed by the heirs before they receive their distributions from the estate. Of course, any type of dispute will delay the process substantially.
When people do not leave a Will, the state of New York determines who gets their property. These are usually their closest living relatives.
This type of estate goes through an administration proceeding, not a probate. As with the probate, the court supervises everything, but the state’s “intestate succession” rules determine who gets what.
Both the probate and administration proceedings are similarly time-consuming and rule-driven, with court appearances by the attorney involved.
We have many years of experience with these types of proceedings, and can guide you through the process with both legal expertise and practical guidance as to how to dispose of various properties and how to deal with the heirs. Family issues can be difficult, and seem to come to the forefront following the loss of a loved one. We have handled these types of issues many times, including with our own families, and can help the executor or administrator get successfully through the entire estate process by minimizing conflicts and coming to an outcome that satisfies all family members.