Normally, executors and the surviving family of a deceased will be advised to hire a probate attorney for assistance administrating the estate. And more often than not, in the course of winding up the estate, they eventually find out just how important and advantageous it is to have a legal professional well-versed in the probate system of New York working on their side.
Nevertheless, not all personal representatives would require the assistance of a probate lawyer. If the estate only contains simple and not so valuable assets, the estate can be wound up quite easily and seamlessly. Knowing that, it then becomes important to be able to determine just when you would need a probate attorney. It is good to be able to determine this on time and hire one before costly mistakes are made and things get out of hand.
To know this, there are some critical things to consider.
What is the value of the estate?
Probate laws vary from state to state. In New York, probate will only be done for an estate that values over $30,000. Below this value, the estate will pass through a simplified process known as Small Estate Administration. Here, the executor can handle everything quite easily, with their major responsibility being to disburse the assets to the beneficiary.
But for more valuable estates with complex assets, probate would involve certain formalities and complexities of which the assistance of a probate attorney would be more than welcome.
What kinds of assets were left by the deceased?
The complicatedness and nature of ownership of the assets left by the deceased will determine how complex probate will be. Some people carrying out estate planning to avoid probate, and so some of their assets would pass outside probate. Note that the following assets will not be probated:
- Assets held in a trust,
- Assets having beneficiary designations such as IRAs, insurance and POD accounts
- Assets jointly held with rights of survivorship and tenancy by entirety
If the only assets held in the name of the decedent are cars, bank accounts, belongings, and a home, then these would easily be probated without assistance from a probate attorney. But if the estate contains businesses, commercial real estate, or other complex assets, probate get more complicated and the expert handling of a probate attorney will be required.
How well do the family members of the deceased get along?
If the surviving family members of the decedent do not get along well, you must brace for family disputes, will contests, and lawsuits. If a family member intends to file a lawsuit, then you definitely would need to put these matters in the hands of the probate attorney 10020. He can help avoid and resolve such issues.
Do the estate funds suffice to settle estate debts and tax with enough to go round for the beneficiaries?
Here, prior calculation and evaluation is important. Before settling expenses, debts and beneficiaries, you should carry out proper calculation to check if the estate funds will be enough to go round. If negative, then the matter becomes a job for a professional and not an amateur. New York has a legal system known as Priority of Claims. This system mandates that creditors and other expenses be settled first before beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may not get anything at all, so long some debts are paid.
The priority of claims is as follows:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Probate expenses, court and attorney charges
- Estate and personal taxes owed by the deceased
- Medical bills relating to the decedent’s death or any illnesses that was the cause of death
- Secured debts such as mortgages or car loans
- Unsecured debts.
Determining how you should go about setting all these are more than you can wrap your head around, and it becomes imperative you hand over the issue to the probate attorney.
Is the estate subject to estate tax?
Estate tax rates and laws change yearly. For deaths in 2020, an estate in New York will be subject to NY state estate tax if the value exceeds $5.85 million. Estate tax return must then be filed and paid appropriately. If its value exceeds $11.58 million, the estate becomes also taxable to the United States. A probate attorney is highly needed here to help determine the rate to which the estate is taxable and file the appropriate documents.
It goes without saying that having professional hands working on their field of specialization is a whole different ball game from when an amateur delves into uncharted territory. An experienced and highly knowledgeable lawyer makes the process so much easier, smooth and fast. So why not get help from a probate attorney near you? Contact our law office to speak with a probate attorney 10020.