Wills and Trusts
Wills and Trusts


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Probating a will is no joke. Being an executor of a will require more than just following written instructions on how to distribute property to the beneficiaries of a deceased. The truth is, as complicated as it gets, you need legal backing, and a good legal backing you’ll find in the probate attorney Ulster County.

The probate attorney offers executors and beneficiaries of a will legal advise and assistance during the probate process, and distribution of the estate property among the beneficiaries according to the dictates of the will. In Ulster County, a will is only valid when it meets the requirements of NY state laws, one of the requirements been that the will must have been signed in the presence of at least two witnesses. In the event of these requirements not been met the will is declared invalid and the estate becomes intestate, i.e, subject to the intestate laws of New York. When this happens, the executor has no right to distribute the estate based on the written will. The responsibility of administering the estate falls upon the state, and an estate administrator will be appointed by the Surrogate’s court.

Responsibilities of the estate executor or administrator

Being the executor or administrator of an estate comes with a great deal of responsibility. An executor or administrator is a person charged with the responsibility of managing the estate of the deceased and disposing off the estate by handing it over to the beneficiaries. There is no legal requirement for the executor to be a relative of the deceased although most people like to choose a close and trusted relative as their executor. The executor needs not be flesh and blood. It could be a financial institution or organization but such organization has to be qualified to serve. As opposed to this, estate administrators appointed by the court must be the the next of kin of the decedent, and who this person is must be determined by the state law.

In Ulster county as well as in every other county in New York, the executor of a will or the estate administrator is bound by the state laws to act in a responsible, faithful and transparent manner. He or she has a fiduciary duty to the estate as well as its creditors and beneficiaries. He must always put the interests of the estate and the decedent first before any other thing.

Becoming an executor/administrator

When a deceased lived his or last days or own property in Ulster County, then probate must be done in a Surrogate’s court in Ulster County. The executor may be appointed by the decedent at the time he was writing his last will and testament. If there is no last will or the will does not conform with the state laws, then the Surrogate’s court will have to appoint an administrator during probate. The administrator maintains all the power and authority of an executor.

Note that before probate, the executor has no legal authority to carry out any activity regarding the estate, and this is why the law mandates the executor to issue a petition to the court to initiate probate.

Now that you have been appointed as an executor or administrator, what should you do?

As have been said, a lot of responsibility falls upon the executor as well as the administrator of an estate. While the executor has to follow instructions contained in the will, the administrator has to follow laid down rules of the state guiding estate administration. Whichever the case, the following duties must be carried out:

  • Write down a list of all the decedents assets and notify any financial institution that may be involved.
  • Obtain personal and real property appraisal from a professional (e.g housing, furniture, jewelry, accounts, etc).
  • It is advised you set up an estate checking account from which you will settle bills.
  • Check if there are creditors of the estate to which payments have to be made. Also try to confirm the validity of the claims of the creditors before payment is made.
  • Pay estate bills, taxes and expenses such as funeral expenses, probate court fees, attorney fees, etc.
  • Formulate and keep a comprehensive record of all expenses and bills which you’ve paid, and all income (probably from insurance, interests and dividends from stocks, etc.).
  • Ensure the decedent’s final income tax return and estate income tax returns are properly prepared and filed should the need arise.
  • State and Federal estate tax returns should also be prepared and filed as quickly as possible should the need arise.
  • Whatever balance is remaining after all debts, taxes and bills have been paid, should be given to the beneficiaries of the will or the intestate distributees.

To avoid unnecessary headaches, contact the probate attorney Ulster County

There are many legal requirements backing each of the above items. For example, if the estate is subject to state or federal taxes, then a return must be filed and these taxes must be paid within 9 months after the decedent’s death. If not done correctly, a penalty is attracted. To avoid such costly mistakes, it is highly you seek the probate attorney who is well versed in these laws and he will guide you in what and what not to do, to ensure smooth estate administration. Hurry now and contact the probate attorney Ulster County to serve your best interests.

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