New York Probate and Estate Administration

All estates in New York where there is a will must go through a legal process known as probate. The main purpose of probate is to transfer assets out of the deceased person’s name into the name of the living. An estate’s assets will be frozen while a judge determines if the Will, providing one was left behind, is valid. After the will is probated the administration of the deceased’s estate occurs. This is the process used by the probate court to ensure the deceased person’s creditors are paid through estate settlement and that any remaining assets go to the deceased’s beneficiaries.

Overview of Executor Responsibilities

An executor is the person responsible for administering an estate and making sure the decedent’s final wishes are carried out. The vast responsibilities of an executor may include:

  • Filing the necessary court papers to start the probate process.
  • Obtaining a copy of the latest will and understand the deceased’s instructions.
  • Locating and taking inventory of all valuables, personal property, and other assets.
  • Handling details like notifying banks and government agencies of your death and filing your final income tax returns.
  • Paying valid claims against the estate.

When the estate administration process concludes, the executor will be responsible for collecting the decedent’s property and distributing it.

Why You Should Retain An Estate Administration Attorney

Given the many factors involved in the administration process, naming a third-party executor may be more beneficial for many reasons including:

  • Even for smaller estates, the administration process can be long and complicated, due to numerous statutes and regulations.
  • The paperwork involved must be filed in the correct order and by specific deadlines.
  • An attorney who specializes in estate administration can either act as an executor or be retained to provide guidance to the person you have chosen to be executor.
  • It is generally advisable to hire an attorney for larger estates, however, smaller estates can also benefit from an administration attorney who has the experience required to address issues that may arise during the administration process, such as valuing assets and handling the necessary court filings.
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