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The Probate Process when There Is a Will

The probate process is generally simpler when a will has been created. When a person passes, the will must be authenticated so that the requests in the will can be completed. In the State of New York, however, a will only needs to be probated if the decedent died with assets valued at 30,000 dollars or more. If this is the case, the executor, who is named in the will as the person who is acting on the deceased's behalf, is expected to present the original will to the Surrogate's Court.

The probate administrator is then to file a Petition for Probate of Will and Appointment of Executor. This petition can be filed at the probate court clerk's office, and a certified copy of the death certificate is required. A hearing date is set for the executor to appear before a judge, where they will present the will and be formally appointed as the executor. When the validity and authenticity of the will is confirmed, the court issues an order "admitting the will to probate", which means the probate process has begun.

Letters Testamentary

The will becomes a public record, along with the other paperwork filed in court. The court issues "letters testamentary" to the executor or executors. If one wishes to argue the validity of the will, this is when they would file objections to the probate. A "letter testamentary" is a document that grants the executor authority to manage the estate. This means they will be in charge of identifying and inventorying the property, having the property appraised, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the property to those stated in the will.

Taking inventory of the estate is a very tedious process. Financial inventory must be filed with the court. This type of inventory includes money that is owed to the decedent or the estate, such as loans, paychecks, life insurance, or retirement accounts that are made payable to the estate. If the property consists of bank and stock accounts, they must be listed with the account numbers and up-to-date balances.

Paying Off Bills, Taxes & Debts

Paintings, cars, and other personal items require a professional appraisal. After this has been completed, bills, taxes, estate expenses, and creditors must be paid off. If funds are not available to pay the expenses, the executor is not responsible for repayment. Bills, debts, and claims against the deceased must be reviewed with supporting proof, and either paid off, settled, or rejected. Anyone who believes the estate owes him or her money may file a lawsuit against the estate, but they only have a limited time to do so. When everything is paid off, settled, or disputed, the estate property can be legally transferred according to what is stated in the will.

If the will authorizes the executor to sell or transfer real estate, they may do so after the allotted waiting period. Once the waiting period is over, and everything has been paid, the rest of the estate can be distributed to heirs or beneficiaries. Once the judge approves the final settlement, the executor is relieved of their duties, and the estate no longer exists.

Hire an Experienced Long Island Probate Lawyer

Even if a loved one made a will, the probate process can still be complicated without the aid of an experienced probate attorney. For years, our team has helped clients with probate matters in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Rockland County, as well as those in the New York Metropolitan area. Attorney Brescia was born and raised in New York, and has experience in all areas of probate and estate law. Without an attorney, probate can take up to a few years to complete. With his help, clients can navigate through probate quickly and painlessly. Our firm offers a complimentary online case evaluation form, as well as a free initial consultation when a prospective client calls or visits our office.

Contact a Long Island probate attorney at The Law Office of Michael J. Brescia, P.C. today to see how we can help resolve your probate issues.

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