The death of a person comes with many challenges, such as dealing with the loss, accounting for all the assets owned by the deceased, as well as disposing off those assets. Dispersal will be done according to the instructions left by the deceased before death, instructions written down in a last will. For the will to take effect, it must first be probated in a law court, and in Queens, the probate lawyer Queens often gets involved in this process.
Why and how probate is conducted?
Probate is conducted in a Surrogate’s court in the territory or locality where the deceased owned assets or resided before passing away. The purpose of carrying out probate is to determine if the written last will of the decedent was actually written in accordance with state laws. If not, then the will becomes void and the wishes of the decedent will hold no water. In Queens, a will will be valid only if it meets with the estate laws of New York, such as being signed by a person of sound mind without duress from an external party, and in the presence of at least two witnesses. If the will has been approved as valid, then the executor of the estate, named in the will by the deceased, can go ahead and execute the instructions of the will, as well as performing other fiduciary responsibilities to which he is bound by law as an estate executor.
When a person dies leaving property valuing less than $30,000, the will will not be probated in a law court, instead, a small estate administration is conducted. Also, should a person die without a will or in a case where the will is invalid, probate must also be done so long the estate worths $30,000 or more. In such scenarios, the estate is declared “intestate”, that is, distribution of the estate will be done according to the intestate laws of the state (in this case, Queens, NY).
Normally, the executor named in a will is the person to initiate probate by filing a petition to the Surrogate’s Court along with the will, the estimated value of the estate, the death certificate of the deceased, as well as information about the potential beneficiaries of the estate. But in the absence of a valid will — i.e intestacy — the court will be responsible for appointing an estate administrator or executor. The so appointed person must observe and oblige to all fiduciary duties which he owes to the estate and the beneficiaries. The estate administrator or executor can also be called a fiduciary.
The responsibilities of a fiduciary are heavy, yet quite specific. When appointed as a fiduciary, you are expected to perform the following duties:
- Making a list of all the assets owned by the decedent, the manner and place in which they are owned;
- Getting professional appraisals of personal and real property, as well as estimating the value of each;
- Opening an estate checking account;
- Determine if there are creditors of the estate, taxes and bills to be paid;
- Settling the above expenses and debts after validating the claims of the creditors;
- Keeping record of each transaction;
- Having the decedent’s estate income tax return, final income tax return, Federal and State estate tax returns prepared and filed;
- Distributing the remaining estate funds to the beneficiaries after all expenses have been paid.
How will the probate lawyer Queens assist you?
As a fiduciary of an estate, you have seen the bulk of duties you are expected to perform while mourning the loss of your loved one. Some estates are so complicated as a result of the manner in which properties are owned, and you may fall into errors while valuating the estate.
Even at that, the beneficiaries may feel dissatisfied with the manner in which you carry out your duties and may lay accusations against you. Wills can also be contested by disgruntled parties. In summary, you find yourself caught up in a web of warring family members, creditors, penalties which result from late payment of estate taxes, and so on. To put an ease to all these issues or prevent them altogether, you should speak with the probate lawyer Queens before embarking on your duties as estate administrator. He is well versed and specialized in probate law matters, and will offer you guidance in carrying out your duties to avoid errors or delay.
Hurry now and contact the probate lawyer Queens.