When New York residents hear the words “probate litigation,” they tend to cringe. Even if they have never been through the probate process relating to a deceased relative’s estate, they probably have the idea that it is something you want to avoid. However, there are a lot of myths about probate and wills that are exaggerated and not necessarily true.
First, New York residents should stop believing that probate proceedings are “bad.” For example, if an individual dies without an estate plan, then it is probate proceedings that will make sure the estate is liquidated and divided up among heirs. Heirs are determined by interstate laws, which are state-level laws that apply to estates that do not have a will on file. In most cases, the deceased person’s spouse and children will be the first ones to inherit. Without the probate process, there would be no court to ensure the fair distribution of property in these cases.
Second, New York residents should stop believing that the probate process takes years. This misconception might come from the fact that a lot of probate proceedings in the news are those of the rich and famous who might have a lot of assets, different kinds of assets and a lot of debts, which take time for courts to sort through and appropriately divide. In all estates, there will be a waiting period three to four months, in which creditors and potential heirs have time to assert their claims against the estate. Once the waiting period has ended, most estates can be divided and finalized in just a few months.
No one ever said that probate proceedings are “fun,” but they are not as bad as the average New York resident thinks. In fact, for the estate attorneys at Weinstein Randisi, who handle the probate process for clients all the time, most probate proceedings are routine and fairly uneventful to resolve.