A testator who takes the time to plan their estate will still depend on others to administer their will after they die. Whether your family member named you as the individual they wanted to handle their affairs after their passing or you stepped up into the role because family members agreed you would handle it well, there are many obligations that will fall to you.
You could face challenges in probate court if you make the wrong choices or fail to act when handling someone’s estate. If you hope to properly administer a will in New York, you will need to fulfill the three steps below to protect yourself and comply with the decedent’s last wishes.
Locate the most current version of the will
It is common practice, especially among those with significant assets, to frequently update estate plans. There could be multiple versions of the will with slightly different instructions in each document. You will need to locate the current and therefore most valid version of the will to ensure that you comply with the testator’s true final wishes.
Validate the will in probate court
Basic probate administration will involve producing the will for the review of the courts. From confirming that the testator had the necessary cognitive capacity at the time they created the document to verifying that the witness signatures comply with state law, there are numerous important checks that must occur to validate a will and allow you to move forward with estate administration.
Review the will with someone who understands legal terminology
One of the biggest mistakes you could make would be to assume that common or casual language is the same as legal language. You could potentially misunderstand the instructions provided in the will if you don’t have appropriate assistance when reviewing the document.
Having a lawyer confirm your interpretation of the instructions provided could be beneficial. Some people even intentionally make an appointment with the attorney who helped draft the will even if that lawyer isn’t the one supporting them through probate proceedings. When you have the right will, have validated it in the court and have confirmed what it requires of you, then you can begin notifying creditors and preparing to distribute assets appropriately.
Learning more about the requirements of modern estate administration can help you fulfill the last wishes of someone important to you.