Q. WHAT IS PROBATE?
Q. HOW DOES PROBATE START?
Q. HOW IS A WILL VALIDATED BY THE COURT?
A. All heirs are notified of the decedent’s death and the initiation of the probate process. Before the will is validated by the court, the judge (the Surrogate) must be satisfied that there are no objections to the will.
The executor of the estate obtains signed waivers from each heir stating they waive the right to object to the will. The executor notifies heirs who do not sign the waiver of the required time and date to appear in court to make their objections. Any heirs who do not appear at the required time will be presumed by the court to have waived their right to contest the will. If there are no objections and if the will adheres to New York requirements, the court will validate the will.
Q. WHAT IF THE WILL IS CONTESTED?
Q. WHAT IF THE WILL IS REJECTED?
A. If the will is rejected, the Surrogate’s Court may look to a decedent’s previously signed will. If there is no valid prior will, the court will turn to New York’s statutory laws of intestacy which will determine how assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Q. HOW LONG DOES PROBATE TAKE?
Q. WHEN IS PROBATE COMPLETE?
A. Once the executor has officially been appointed by the court to act on behalf of the estate, the executor is given documentation as proof of such authority. This documentation will be necessary to collect the decedent’s assets, manage bank accounts, etc. Within six months of receiving the court-issued documentation naming the executor, the executor must file an Inventory of Assets with the court reporting the value of the estate. This marks the end of the probate process.
Q. WHAT IS ESTATE ADMINISTRATION?
A. Estate administration is a much more lengthy process that involves locating and collecting all of the decedent’s assets, reviewing and paying valid debts and claims against the estate, filing tax returns and paying applicable taxes, making distributions to beneficiaries from remaining assets, filing a final accounting of the estate and closing the estate.
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