Probate is simply the legal framework that is used to handle property, possessions and finance. This court process is mainly carried out to determine the authenticity or validity of a will and administer the estate of a deceased estate owned (if he or she died without a will).
As we already know, the probate process can be complex, long winded and very frustrating. How does this process work? You may ask. You see, most individuals will have made a will or need to draft a will (a legal document designating the person or person who is tasked with executing the decedent’s wishes for the administration of their estate). If there exist no will then an executor is designate by the court.
Options Available to Avoid Probate in Long Island
If you wish to avoid the probate process in Long Island, you can select from the below options. Contact a competent attorney for advice.
In Long Island, you can set up a living will to bypass probate for any asset you own, such as real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, etc. You need to create a trust document (it is like a will), designating someone to assume the position of trustee after your death (called successor trustee). Then, you must transfer ownership of your property to yourself as the trustee of the trust. As soon as all that is done, the property will be controlled by the terms used to set up the trust. Upon your death, your successor will be able to transfer it to the trust beneficiaries without the usual probate process.
If you own a property jointly with another individual, and this ownership includes the “right of survivorship,” then whoever is alive between the two owners automatically owns the property when one dies. Probate is not necessary in this case to transfer the property, although it will involve some paperwork to indicate that title to the property is held solely by the surviving owner.
In Long Island, these forms of joint ownership are available:
Joint tenancy: Property owned in joint tenancy is automatically transferred to the surviving owner when one kicks the bucket. Probate isn’t required to facilitate the process. Joint tenancy is often ideal when couples (married or not) procure real estate, vehicle, bank accounts, or other valuable property together. In New York, each owner, regarding as joint tenant, must own the same share.
Tenancy by the entirety: this type of joint ownership is similar to joint tenancy. However, it is allowed only for married couples in Long Island. In Long Island, tenancy by the entirety is allowed just for just real estate.
Payable-on-Death Designations for Bank Accounts
You can include a “payable-on-death (POD) designation to bank accounts like savings accounts or certificates of deposit. You still have control over the money in the account, your payable-on-death designation beneficiary has zero rights to the money, and you can splash all the money if you desire. Upon your death, the beneficiary can claim the funds directly from the bank without the probate process.
Transfer-on-Death Registration for Securities
New York allows you to register stocks and bonds in transfer-on-death (TOD) form. Individuals usually hold brokerage accounts like this. If you register an account in transfer-on-death form, the beneficiary you designate will inherit the account automatically after your demise. The probate process is not required. The beneficiary will transact directly with the brokerage company to transfer the account.
Worthy to note is that, if you fail to plan to avoid probate, your estate may qualify for New York’s simplified “small estate” probate process. If you need more details regarding the simplified probate procedure, contact us.
You can also contact our office if you have questions regarding the options available to avoid probate in Long Island, or if you need a probate attorney. Our probate attorneys are experienced and versed in matters regarding probate and can help in ensuring that the probate process is done without any hindrance.