What is Probate
Probate is the process of proving the validity of the Last Will of the decedent in Surrogate’s Court. It is a complex legal proceeding that may take up to one and a half years in the State of New York. If you live in New York City, the cost of probate can vary depending on the value and complexity of the estate and other factors. To probate a will in Kings or New York county’s surrogates court will cost you 5-7% of the value of your estate. The typical probate fees are around $10,000 for estates between $500,000-$1,000,000 but can run a lot more if the Will is Contested and if Probate Litigation occurs as a result of a Will contest by any of the excluded beneficiaries. A New York will probate attorney can help you through the entire legal process.
About The Probate Process
The process of probate typically involves the following key steps:
- An individual must be appointed to carry out or administer the estate. If the decedent had an estate plan, the administrator or executor is usually named in the will. If it so happens that there is no will or an executor is not named, the probate court has the authority to name an executor of its choice.
- The will must be proven to be valid. Since state law sets the rules and regulations for the probate process, the estate plan, and thus, the will must follow all state requirements for notaries, signatures and witnesses to make sure that a will is valid.
- The deceased person’s property is identified and appraised.
- Debts and/or taxes owed by the deceased are paid off.
How to Avoid Probate?
Avoiding the costs and long delays of the probate process is simpler than most people think. Below are some simple tips to help you keep more of yo your estate in the hands of your loved ones.
1. Set up a Living Trust
The simplest and most straightforward way to bypass the probate process is by creating a living trust. Unlike a will which only distributes your assets upon death, a living trust transfers ownership of the assets from the original owner to the trust itself which is managed by a trustee for the direct benefit of your beneficiaries. It allows you to avoid the entire process of probate since the assets placed into the trust are no longer under your possession.
2. Add A Payable-on-Death Beneficiary
Another way to avoid probate is to simply add a payable-on-death beneficiary to any or all of your financial accounts including but not limited to life insurance policies, 401k plans, pension plans, stocks, bonds and IRA accounts. To get started, simply request and fill out the payable on death that your bank or brokerage company provides. If you’re married, it’s important to remember that some of these accounts may be partially owned by your spouse. By filling out these forms, you ensure that your assets are immediately transferred upon death and thus, avoid the expensive and time consuming cost of probate.
3. Hold Any Property You Own Jointly with A Spouse or Significant Other
One last way to avoid probate is to hold any property you own jointly with a spouse or significant other. Having joint ownership allows the property to pass automatically to your significant other without going through probate, regardless of your marital status.
Common Issues Clients Need Help With During Probate
As mentioned prior, the probate process is incredibly complex and highly nuanced. Everything in your estate plan must be executed perfectly in order for the estate to be successfully probated. Below are the most common issues we help our clients with as they go through the probate process.
- Review of existing will
- Review of beneficiaries
- Family tree affidavit
- Genealogy report and search for missing family members
- Preparation of probate petition
- Filing of probate petition
- Service of process on beneficiaries
Probate Assistance in New York.
An experienced New York Probate lawyer will advise you about the following:
- Which petition probate or administration to file in Surrogate’s Court and in which County such petition should be filed.
- Help prepare and file the appropriate petition with Surrogate’s Court.
- Provide full support for appointed Executor/Administrator in dealing with the estate, including payment of estate debt to rightful creditors, sale of estate assets, payment of estate taxes and final distribution of estate assets to heirs.
- Represent clients in Will Contest Proceeding.
- Provide representation and experience with the NYC Probate Surrogate’s Court.
Do you have more questions about Probate? Our attorneys are ready to give you all the help and answers you need. Call us today.
What Happens If There is No Will?
When a person dies without a will, their assets are distributed to relative survivors according to probate rules. In New York that means that a closest living family member is entitled to the assets from the estate.
When Is It Necessary to Not Have A Will?
A will may not be necessary if you know that you will have no probatable assets when you die, you’ve made arrangements for your property and are confident that your wishes will be carried out, you are satisfied with the transfers that will occur according to local intestate law or if you know that your property will pass automatically upon death.
Do All Assets Have to Go Through Probate?
Some, or all, of the assets within a decedent’s estate may not have to go through probate to be transferred. In fact, non-probate are typically transferred directly to designated beneficiaries without any involvement with probate court.