NYC has special Probate Rules if your Loved one left a Small Estate

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Generally, probate assets are those which are solely owned by the deceased and do not have a beneficiary designation to allow them to pass to another person by operation of law. This includes individual bank accounts, solely owned homes, cars, jewelry, art, cash, and antiques.

Non-probate assets include

  • Assets held in trust
  • Bank accounts with a named beneficiary
  • Retirement accounts, like a 401k and IRA
  • Life insurance policies with a named beneficiary
  • Jointly held savings, checking, and brokerage accounts
  • Jointly held real property
  • Probate may not be necessary if:

The estate is small. In New York, a small estate or voluntary administration proceeding can be filed as an alternative to probate if the decedent had less than $30,000 of personal property either with or without a will.

There are no probate assets. If a person’s estate consists solely of non-probate assets, there is no need for the probate process.

The estate plan was created to avoid probate. Individuals with a moderate to high net worth often take steps to prepare an estate plan that avoids probate as a way to simplify the distribution of assets to their heirs

Probate Rules if Loved ones left a Small estate.

As you work to make final arraignments after your loved one’s passing, you can also begin the process of securing your loved one’s property, notifying social security, closing out financial accounts and starting the probate or estate administration process. While there is much to do during this difficult time, here are some rules.

1. Take an Inventory of Property and Important Documents.

After a loved one passes, it is often difficult to remember all of the property that he or she owned, as well as all of the paperwork you will need to handle their estate. Believe us, this task is not an easy one, especially when you factor in the emotion of your loss. That is why we have created a checklist of the paperwork you will need to handle the estate, as well as a list of property your loved one may have owned. It is important to keep this information secure at all times, and it is not a bad idea to use a lockbox to store these documents when they are not in use.

Your loved one’s documents are

  • Certified copies of the decedent’s birth certificate, death certificate, and marriage certificate.
  • Divorce decree(s) from all previous marriages.
  • Will or trust papers.
  • Insurance policies.
  • List of assets (house, car, jewelry, etc.
  • Bank account numbers.
  • Social security card or number (for both you and the deceased).
  • Credit card numbers and statements.
  • Deeds to any real estate.
  • Tax return from the previous year. 

2. Notify Social Security.

If your loved one was receiving money from Social Security, they will need to be notified upon his or her death. You should also assume that any payments that are being made via direct deposit will either be stopped by the government or frozen by the bank.

3. Keep Property Safe from Theft or Vandalism.

It’s a good idea to remove any valuables from your loved one’s home and take extra steps to secure the house from theft of vandalism. You should also keep a list of the items removed during this process, just in case you have to locate them or give an account later. Stop all mail coming to the house, and remember that unless you are the surviving spouse or child living at the residence, the post office may require you to provide extra documentation.

4. Address Outstanding Debt.

Many people falsely assume that their loved one’s debts will automatically be forgiven upon their passing. Unfortunately this is not true and steps will need to be taken to address any outstanding debt still owed to creditors.

5. Open Claims for Insurance BenefitsAs the person handling your loved one’s affairs, you must gather information regarding any policies or accounts that the decedent may have had, including life insurance, health insurance, and private retirement accounts. Be prepared with the policy number and a copy of the death certificate when you call the insurance company to make a claim. The insurance company will then forward the proceeds of the policy to whoever was named beneficiary.

6. Research Additional Benefits from EmployerContact the human resource department at your loved one’s place of employment to find out if they offer death benefits to the spouse or family of the decedent. Occasionally these  benefits are made to both current and former employees, so contact all places that your loved one may have worked in the past. Also, be sure to ask about any 401(k) accounts, pensions, or stock benefits.

7. Speak to a Lawyer Experienced in Estate Planning & Probate.

Administering a loved one’s estate can be costly, time consuming and at times, confusing. Working with an attorney will not only alleviate much of this stress, but will ensure that your loved one’s affairs are handled without mistakes, and that all court and government mandated deadlines are met. Give yourself and your family the peace of mind knowing that your loved one’s wishes are being carried out in the best way possible. At the Weissler Law Group, we take pride in helping clients get through this process smoothly, with the least possible delay, and least possible family conflict.

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Do you have more questions about Probate? Our attorneys are ready to give you all the help and answers you need. Call us today.


How Long Does Probate in New York Take?

Even a small estate will take some time to be settled. Expect it to be at least six months before the assets may be distributed to the heirs and probate to be closed.

Is Probate Required in New York?

Probate is necessary for estates in New York. It is the process by which those assets are transferred to the heirs.

Is probate Rules necessary?

Yes, it is necessary to ensure a proper and we’ll calculated plan on estate planning especially when dealing with estate of a loved one or family.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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