Handling New York Probate and Estate Litigation matters (contested wills) for over 25 years
Representing clients in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Manhattan.
When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. In New York, this is done through the Surrogate Courts where one Surrogate (Judge) is assigned to handle probate matters in each county. The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.
When disputes arise during the probate process, such as in the case of a contested Will, you should obtain the assistance of experienced and aggressive estate litigation attorneys who will represent you in the probate (Surrogate) court.
Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
Filing of a petition with the proper probate court. (Ex: Nassau County Surrogate or Queens Surrogate)
Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists).
Petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a Will) or Administrator for the estate.
Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator.
Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors. Sale of estate assets.
Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
Final distribution of assets to heirs.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What happens if someone objects to the Will in New York?
An objection to a Will, also known as a “Will contest” are fairly common occurrences during the probate proceedings and can be incredibly costly to litigate.
In order to contest a Will, one has to have legal “standing” to raise objections. This usually occurs when, for example children are to receive disproportionate shares under the Will, or when distribution schemes change from a prior Will to a later Will. In addition to disputes over the tangible distributions, Will contests can be a quarrel over the person designated to serve as Executor.
Does probate administer all property of the deceased in New York?
Probate is primarily a process through which title is transferred from the name of the deceased to the names of the beneficiaries.
Certain types of assets are what is called “non-probate assets” do not go through probate. These include:
Property in which you own title as “joint tenants with right of survivorship”. Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and do not go through probate.
Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
Life insurance policies.
Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
Property owned by a living trust. Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.
Do I get paid for serving as an executor in New York?
Executors are reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred in the process of management and distribution of the deceased estate. In addition, you may be entitled to statutory fees, which are provided for under New York law and vary based on the size of the probate estate. The Executor has to fulfill his or her fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of estate assets in his or her care. It is advised that the Executor retain an attorney and an accountant to advise and assist him with his or her duties.
How much does probate cost in New York? How long does it take?
The cost and duration of probate can vary substantially in New York depending on a number of factors such as the value and complexity of the estate, the existence of a Will and the location of real property owned by the estate. Will contests or disputes with alleged creditors over the debts of the estate can also add significant cost and delay. Common expenses of an estate include executors fees, attorneys fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds. These typically add up to 2% to 7% of the total estate value. Most estates are settled though probate in about 9 to 18 months, assuming there is no litigation involved.
Contact our Nassau County, Long Island Probate Attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.