Probate New York Attorneys

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Probate New York Attorneys

Many people wish to control what happens to their estates when they are gone. They wish to see their property distributed to their next of kin the way they desire, with unnecessary squabbles. This is true but to a certain percentage.

If you have multiple beneficiaries, you need to have a plan, but it is not guaranteed that the plan will work. For many estates that face will contests and disputes, probate is the only solution.

As a firm, we offer cost-effective solutions to your probate issues and make sure that we support you all the way to the resolution. Probate New York attorneys not only set up and organize your estate in a way that reduces the chances of probate, but we also see wills through probate and help handle any litigation that might come up due to the process.

We have helped many clients probate their wills, administer their testate and intestate estates, petition for caveats, letters testamentary, and objections to fiduciaries.

We understand that dealing with a family member’s passing away is not an easy thing, especially when it comes to emotion, and it can be overwhelming trying to wind up the decedent’s affairs.

When it comes to probate, it is crucial to choose a person that you trust to handle these matters. Our experience gives us the ability to probate your estate in an efficient, compassionate, and orderly manner that saves time and resources of clients.

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More than 44 percent of the people that have gone through probate had a family conflict to drag them behind.

Marianna Schwartsman

What is New York Probate?

Probate refers to the distribution of assets supervised by the surrogate court in New York. Probate exists because once the will-maker passes on, there is no way to change the assets’ titles to the beneficiaries that are entitled to them.

The law that handles probate is found in the New York probate code. This code contains all the statutes that relate to probate and the probate process.

Besides the Probate Code, the law of handling probate is also found in case of decisions as well as in local court rules. While county courts can use the state Probate Code in New York, they can also come up with decisions depending on the issue.

Local court rules come on both written and unwritten versions. Most counties will go ahead and come up with local rules at the court clerk’s office. Additionally, each judge has his own rules and policies regarding specific matters. This is why you need to work with New York probate attorneys that understand the state, local and unwritten rules, and procedures.

Most documents filed with the probate court are prepared on forms. These forms are used across the state. Other forms are created for single-use locally. When you present a probate case to court or a dispute, you will use a fill-in-the-blank or fill-in-the-box format to complete the form. The format forces you to make all the necessary allegations and provide all the facts to the probate court.

As New York probate attorneys, we have all the skills and expertise to help you assess your case, fill in the forms and file them with the court clerk and make sure everything is working out perfectly.

Which Assets Must be Probated in New York?

Simply put, all the decedent assets must go through probate unless the law in New York specifies otherwise. However, a huge percentage of the decedent property doesn’t have to go through probate because the probate exceptions are many.

Assets that Don’t have to Be Probated

If the decedent left behind the following assets, then probate isn’t necessary in this case:

  • Assets where the title lists the will-maker and at least one living beneficiary as joint tenants.
  • Assets that pass outright to the surviving spouse.
  • Financial accounts that have a designated beneficiary.
  • Brokerage accounts where the title is in the decedent’s name but has a “transfer on death” designation to a living beneficiary.
  • Financial accounts where the title is in the name of the beneficiary but has a “pay on death” designation to a living person.
  • Assets that belong to the decedent, such as pension plans, 401K, or life insurance, where the will-maker had a beneficiary designated to the account.

More assets don’t have to pass through probate; some are specific to your county. If you are still confused over which asset needs to go through probate, contact us to clarify.

Preliminary Steps Upon Death

If the assets must go through the probate process, it should typically take from a few months to a year. However, this is not a guarantee as it can take longer depending on the complexity of the estate. For instance, if the decedent owns real estate as part of the assets, the process will take longer.

Additionally, the more the number of beneficiaries, the longer it might take. It is a well-known fact that more beneficiaries mean a higher probability of conflicts.

Find out if A will Exists

When a person passes away, and you agree to be the executor, your job begins. The legal powers that you have are limited until you open the estate formally. However, you can start by finding out if there is a will or not.

If it is available, get the will and read it so that you understand what it contains. Even when you saw the will being executed, make sure you obtain it and make copies of the same, you never know – the decedent might have decided to change the will and come up with an updated version.

If there is no will, you need to prepare for probate but under “intestacy” rules.

Inform all The Interested Parties

Once the estate is opened, there are a few formal legal-notice requirements that you need to handle. If you haven’t done it already, you ought to inform any family members that don’t know about death already. At the moment, a phone call or a letter will work.

Further, you need to inform any person who played a vital role in the decedent’s financial and legal affairs about the death. 

Ask anyone connected to the decedent in one way or another about personal papers, books and records that he left behind. These people will be able to provide you with an idea of where the key to the safety deposit boxes is located. Remember that you are responsible for obtaining such documents that might now go to someone else.

Determine the Property that Make up the Estate and Who Has Crucial Interests

You need to determine:

  • The property that makes up the estate.
  • Who is the important person or institution that can lay claim to the assets in the estate?

The type of ownership that exists will determine how you handle the process.

If the decedent solely owns the property, it will go straight to probate to determine who gets what.

If the decedent passed on without any will, then it is termed intestacy. In this case, the rules of intestacy rule the case. Intestacy laws give the dependents varying shares of the property that make up the estate.

Performing a Legal Audit on the Estate

Once you have determined the estate’s content and who has an interest in the property, the next thing is to perform a legal audit of the estate. As the executor, you have the responsibility of keeping track of pertinent information concerning the estate. As Probate New York attorneys, we can do this for you.

The information you collect now will be vital when it comes to estate inventory.

Estate Inventory

Once you open the estate and send out any notices to creditors as required by the law, you can now perform the next step in the process – estate inventory. You need to report all the estate assets to the court in a few months of opening the estate.

The county usually has a deadline that must be met, usually four months of opening the estate. Talk to the local courthouse to send you the standard forms to file the inventory the right way.

Estate inventory usually involves opening a bank account, not just for depositing the funds from the process but also to make payment of estate expenses easy.

Make sure you open the account in the city where the estate has been opened. The bank you choose should have a solid foundation and shouldn’t be in financial trouble. If you are unsure which bank to choose, call us, and we can advise you on what to do.

Handling Claims against the Estate

Once you send out notices to the creditors, you will receive claims against the estate. Of all the claims, you need to understand which ones are valid and which aren’t. You pay off the valid ones from funds from the estate before closing off the estate.

Do You Need to Hire New York Probate Attorneys?

To reduce the burden on your hands during the grieving period, you can hire us to handle the estate. We have the necessary experience to handle the probate process right from the beginning to its conclusion, with your involvement, of course.

Another way for you to use our services is for specific issues. For instance, if the decedent’s estate is located in another state, you can coordinate the sale or transfer of the property with us because we are familiar with laws in different states.

You can also use us if you don’t know what to do next. For instance, you can use our expertise to check your work and confirm whether you are doing the right thing. It is always good to have someone that you can run to when you aren’t sure of what you are doing.

If you haven’t had any reason to hire us in the past, we recommend that you work with us in the following circumstances:

  • An interested party has contested the will, or a beneficiary has attacked the provisions of the will.
  • The will doesn’t spell out the intention of the decedent.
  • The decedent owned real property in another state, or he is a non-resident of New York.
  • The decedent left contracts that are unfinished, such as assets still in escrow.
  • The decedent had business interests in a business entity such as a sole proprietorship or a partnership.
  • There aren’t enough assets in the estate to pay off every debt and to pay off beneficiaries.
  • When you have something that you feel is beyond the scope of the knowledge you have about the case.

Working with us will help you know what you want and how to get it. We are specialists in probate, which means that we have the experience necessary to handle all your issues.

Starting the Probate Process

The New York Probate Code sets out the rules that you need to follow to petition for probate in the state. Any interested party can file this petition after the death of the decedent.

In this case, the interested party is anyone who has an interest in the estate; this can be an heir or a creditor. However, the person who files the petition often requests to be named the personal representative to handle the estate on behalf of the decedent.

The petition serves three main purposes:

  • It tasks the court by determining the date of death and the decedent’s residence at the time of death. The date of death is ideal for establishing who is entitled to the assets in the estate. The place of death simply establishes in which county the probate should be handled.
  • The petition asks the court to appoint a personal representative for the estate.
  • The petition also asks the court to probate the will, that is, if the decedent had one.

The petition needs to be submitted within a specific period for it to be admitted to court. As Probate New York attorneys, we understand that after the death of a loved one you get bogged down with a lot of personal issues, and we don’t want to

Handling Creditor Claims

One of the main purposes of probate is to pay off any pending debts left behind by the decedent. The court in New York puts the rights of the creditor ahead of the rights of the beneficiary.

It is the job of the personal representative to determine a legitimate creditor, determine their debts, notify them, and pay the debts off if the estate has adequate funds.

Identifying and weeding out fake creditors is a tough task. You can work with us to help you handle this task.

How to Prepare to Meet With Us

Once you decide that you will work with us, you need to make sure you are ready for this meeting. Here are a few tips to help you work better with us.

Know What to Ask

While talking to us about probate can appear daunting at first, asking questions will make you feel comfortable.

Asking questions will give you an idea of what to expect from us. We shall answer all your questions because we know that these questions will tell you what to do and how to do it. Asking questions also creates the right atmosphere, and it makes you know us better.

No one wants to be left in the dark, and as attorneys in New York, we want you to work with us when you are fully informed about what will happen with your issue. For best results, ask as many questions as you can.

You can get an idea of the questions you need to ask from the internet. Write them down and come with them during the first meeting.

Collect all the Paperwork

Probate isn’t based on guesswork. You will need a lot of paperwork. Without the right paperwork, you are looking at a failed process. Yes, you might do some preliminary discussions without the relevant paperwork, but we might not move so far until we have what we need. If you aren’t sure about the paperwork that you need, you can ask us, and we shall direct you.

Two of the most important pieces are the death certificate and the will. The death certificate helps confirm the death of the decedent and the date of passing on. This will makes the process easier for the court.

However, always be ready to provide more paperwork as needed. We shall give you a list of the paperwork we need to organize them in advance.

Come with a List of Relations

If you know anyone in the will, ensure you write down the information. Make a list of every person that you know is part of the will. Track down any matching information to the names. As an executor, you need to account for every beneficiary. Consider the fact that the probate process might drag on for longer because someone linked to the will is missing. If they are dead, you have to prove that this is the fact.

Save time and money in your probate dispute. Get matched with a probate attorney that knows what you need and how to deliver it the best way.

The Advantages of Working with Us

When having a probate case, you must work with the right attorney who easily addresses your concerns. Sometimes, getting the right probate attorney is as hard as winning the case itself.

We understand how difficult it is to handle probate while grieving at the same time. We make things easy for you by providing you with the exact support that you need.

Different practices have different strengths. Our firm has always stood out because of the following unique reasons:

We Are Knowledgeable and Professional

We are known for handling probate cases at high professional standards. We provide you with enough knowledge to guide you in making the right decisions.

Our team is highly experienced in the probate process and looks forward to providing the best solutions to each case. We do extensive research on each case before recommending the best course of action.

Some of the more specialized probate services that our team has handled successfully before include:

  • Resolution of debts
  • Distribution of assets
  • Tax planning
  • Transferring complex asset titles once probate is completed
  • Advising on ways you can protect a loved one’s assets

Our Probate New York attorneys have been practicing for several years now. They have handled hundreds of similar cases and used the experience they received over these years to complete every client’s request.

We Put Your Needs First

Our services are tailored to meet your direct needs. We fit in your schedule and meet with you at times that are convenient for you, including evenings and weekends.

We always seek to provide you with tools and solutions that have a high likelihood of resolving any complications that may arise in the probate case.

Our probate team always treats each case as unique. They give each client adequate care and attention as and when required. For each case, we begin by researching the relevant legal procedures associated with it before making any recommendations.

We aim to protect the interests of our clients. We do this by taking the time to understand the details of your case before taking any steps. We pride in making the difficult probate period manageable for you and your family.

We Are Good at Identifying the Uniqueness of Each Case

We acknowledge that each case brought to our attention is equally important and unique. Every client that walks into our office is certain that their situation will be handled with the importance it deserves.

We do not prioritize some cases over others, however, complex they become. We have enough experts on our team, who are equally reliable when it comes to tackling any case presented.

We make use of the diverse abilities of our probate lawyers to meet all your complex needs. Our mission is to provide you with the right counsel that will move your case forward.

Our hands-on approach ensures that you not only the right solution for you but also the best.

We Focus on Results

We not only focus on your interests but also ensure that all of them are met by the end of the probate process. Our firm has a reputation for winning each case and posting positive results for all our clients. We have received several testimonials from some of our clients, which we can share with you.

When you retain us to work on your case, we personalize our services to you to maximize the outcome. We never hand you to someone else. This is what defines us. Once we take your case, we work on it diligently to ensure that you receive the kind of assistance you need.

We find creative ways of handling probate procedures. We have mastered the art of coming up with individualized solutions for each client’s needs.

We Have a History of Handling Legal Claims

We aim to shield your estate from legal claims, which are common in most probate processes. Our probate lawyers are very knowledgeable in winning creditor claims and contests as well.

We take advantage of the guidelines of the decedent’s will to contest any claims, ensuring that the probate court makes a ruling that is favourable to the beneficiaries and other family members.

We Expedite the Process

As much as you may have lost a loved one, you do not want to dwell on the probate process for too long. We facilitate all the aspects of your case, from court filing to drafting the requisite legal documents.

We ensure that our clients understand all the technical details needed for the process so that you do not make unnecessary mistakes. We ensure that each action is completed properly.

We may not have a specific formula for making the probate process move faster, but our way of doing things ensures that your case does not go on for too long.

We Respond Promptly

We do not keep our clients waiting for our actions. Once we start working on your probate case, we make everything possible for you to reach us. We respond to your questions in good time and ensure that you are satisfied with our handling process.

We understand how confusing probate can be, and that this confusion can be magnified if you do not get timely guidance. Therefore, we ensure that you understand what to expect from the process and that you are prepared for every possible outcome of your case.

We Are Good Financial Advisors

Since the probate court always gives you a specific timeline within which the decedent’s debt must be settled, we work with you to ensure these timelines are met.

Things may get a bit complicated when there is a significantly large amount of debt to be cleared. We offer you the right guidance during this period to ensure that you do not lose the entire inheritance.

We work with the executor to ensure they do not struggle with the debt settlement part of the probate process. We provide them with legal counsel that ensures an agreement is reached with the creditors before the court’s deadline elapses.

Estate planning lawyer

Frequently Asked Questions

It is not compulsory. There are alternative legal methods estate owners can use to transfer ownership of their property to the beneficiaries outside probate.

Some states allow certain properties to be inherited through an express process. These include personal assets held in a trust, assets held in joint tenancy, insurance policies, and ‘payable on death’ accounts.

The rest of the assets must go through probate.

The representative of the deceased’s estate works with an attorney to file a petition to probate the will. The attorney then notifies the beneficiaries about the decedent’s property, and a hearing of the petition is set.

If no one objects the will within the set period, the court approves the petition and instructs the representative to clear the decedent’s debts before distributing the assets to the named heirs.

Yes, you are allowed to initiate probate without any legal assistance. However, you need a person that is conversant with the probate proceedings to guide you at each step of the process.

You must understand that if you fail to present the right documents or miss a deadline, you might expose your family to unnecessary liability. A professional lawyer helps you eliminate unnecessary delays, which is recommended.

If you intend to transfer the property to your children outside the hassle of probate, you can decide to give it to them as a gift. You may use a deed of variation, which allows you to change ownership from yourself to them directly.

A deed of variation will make it seem like the children inherited the property directly from your relative. Using it frees you from any inheritance tax associated with the property.

Another way of transferring the estate to your children is through establishing a trust. Trusts are good because they protect your assets in the event of divorce or bankruptcy. They also prevent your children from gaining control of the estate until they attain a certain age.

There are instances where you do not need to wait for probate to end before selling your inherited property. However, it all depends on the way the property is owned. If the inheritance features property that you held in joint ownership with the deceased, such property automatically gets transferred to you after the other owner dies. You can sell this property without involving the probate court.

If the property you inherited was solely owned by the deceased, you will need to get a probate grant before selling it. However, you are allowed to get valuations of the property and put it on the market before obtaining the grant.