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In New York, when a person dies leaving an estate worth $30,000 or more, such an estate must undergo probate in a probate court in New York. Probate is a legal process by which the Last Will and Testament of a decedent is validated to ensure that his or her estate is distributed lawfully. To ensure that your will passes as valid in New York, you may consider hiring a New York estate planning lawyer because probate laws vary across states, and only a New York attorney will be well-versed with these laws. However, probate can be quite lengthy and complicated and may pose the following issues:

1. How do I know if an estate should be probated?

An estate will only be probated if the estate worth $30,000 or above. As an executor or a loved one of the deceased, then it falls upon you to initiate probate if this is the case. Below this value, only a small estate administration will be conducted. But if the only asset left by the deceased is a real estate, then probate becomes unnecessary. Also, any assets transferred into a trust will not be probated as only assets be ring the name of the deceased are subject to probate.

2. Will contests

During probate, some dissatisfied parties may “contest” the will, i.e formally argue that the will does not reflect the true intent of the testator, assuming the testator to have been compelled to sign the will under duress by an interested party. Will contests are most common when the testator was known to have been of a poor mental state. To resolve such cases, estate planning lawyers are often hired by the interested and dissatisfied parties.

3. Disagreement between beneficiaries

Beneficiaries and surviving families are often found to be of different opinions regarding how the assets of their loved one should be distributed, sold, or managed, especially when there are large and undivided properties which necessitate joint ownership. This naturally leads to wastage of time during probate and in such cases, an estate planning lawyer would need to be hired to come up with solutions mutually accepted by and benefiting all concerned party.

4. Competence of the executor

An executor has several Fiduciary duties to the estate as well as the family of the deceased by initiating probate, evaluating the total worth of the estate, determining estate debts and taxes and paying them, handling the estate’s account, making important decisions, as well as distributing the properties to the named beneficiaries according to the will. Some executors may find these roles too hard to handle and may get involved in fraud, siphoning the estate’s funds. When an executor is found to be of a suspicious character, the family may need to hire a probate attorney to notify the court. Incompetent executors may be removed anytime and even fined for financial losses.

5. Estate Taxes and Bills

Assets of the deceased, such as bank accounts, real estates, cars, etc. are subject to tax before they can be written in the name of the beneficiary. Estate taxes vary with the worth of the estate, and typically vary between 5.6% to 16% in New York.

6. When no valid last will can be found

When a will is found to be invalid or no will can be found at all, then the estate will be administered based on intestacy laws of the state. If you believe your deceased loved one’s will has been lost or stolen, then you should hire a probate lawyer to help you determine the most favorable step to take.

7. Going it all alone

This is the gravest error you can make when it comes to estate planning and probating a will. As an executor or a loved one to the deceased, you may feel competent enough to handle probate alone, but not so. Probate is a complicated and legal process in which you need the legal backing from a certified attorney highly experienced and well-versed in this area of probate. Settling creditors, taxes, disputes amongst family members, handling the funds of the estate, all these require assistance from a professional to lessen the burden on you. Even in writing the will, you do not want to create a will that would cause confusion in your family when you die. To have the smoothest and quickest probate, hire the best estate planning lawyer New York.

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