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What should I know about probate in New York?

The death of a loved one is a difficult situation to deal with for people throughout New York. One issue that many do not want to think about is how the decedent's assets will be handled after they have died. But, the distribution of assets and probate administration is an important part of wrapping up the person's affairs. Understanding probate is a key part of that and should not be ignored.

After the death of a person who had a will, there will be the filing of the will in Surrogate's Court so it can be admitted for probate. With probate, the goal is to show that the will is valid. Once the court is satisfied that there is a valid will, the will's executor - named as part of the will - will distribute the assets and follow through on the testator's desires as they were laid out in the document. The executor will then file the will. A death certificate and the probate petition will be filed.

The heirs will be listed in the probate petition. People who are getting something as part of the will are notified. This notice is referred to as a citation. The Surrogate's Court will maintain jurisdiction, meaning that it has the authority to decide on the rights of those who are taking part in the process. The people who are named in the document and are receiving something from the person's estate will be informed when the executor has filed for the right to manage the estate. A waiver can be signed for the approval of the executor or there can be a court hearing if the executor is not approved.

For people who are either functioning as the executor of an estate or are set to receive items from the estate as heirs, understanding how probate administration works is an integral part of the distribution of assets after the testator's death. Since these matters can be complex and often have disputes among the heirs, a legal professional experienced in estate administration can help all concerned parties.

Source: nycourts.gov, "Probate," accessed on Jan. 30, 2018

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