Estate Administration And Probate Services
Probate is the process of proving a will. When a person dies with a will, the will must be declared legal in Surrogate’s Court. Probate is a process that can take some time. During this time, anyone who has a valid claim on the estate in question can contest the will.
For larger estates, the process of probate can take several months. If there is a will contest, probate can take several years. Once the court declares the will as valid, the executor distributes the assets based on the wishes of the deceased.
Resolving Estate Disputes
Our office files an administration proceeding if a person intestate, or without a will. The court will appoint an administrator and divide the estate according to the Rules Governing Intestate Succession. New York state law outlines these rules in Estates, Powers, and Trusts, Article 4 Part 1, § 4-1.1 Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate.
New York state law entitles a spouse a portion of the inheritance, even if a will expressly excludes a spouse. The Surrogate’s Court will not track down a spouse to notify them if they are not in the will. It is the responsibility of the spouse to contest the will to receive their inheritance rights. A spouse has a limited time to act, and there are no extensions. Without prompt action, the court assumes the spouse has waived all inheritance rights.
If the will contest is not filed promptly, the court assumes the spouse has forfeited their rights.
Direct descendants, such as children, are also entitled to a portion of the inheritance and may file a will contest during the probate period. Biological and adopted children are treated equally under the law, so even adopted heirs may attempt to reclaim their inheritance rights.
Attorneys With Experience In Surrogate’s Court
Whether a will assigns an executor or the court assigns an administrator, the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the person died oversees the probate process.
Within probate, there is a detailed and specific process of notifying heirs and beneficiaries. The Surrogate’s Court sends notifications to heirs and beneficiaries named in the will. The court also notifies creditors.
During the process of probate, executors or administrators pay the creditors and satisfy any taxes. Heirs to the estate may agree to the named executor to manage the distribution of assets as prescribed in the will. Heirs may also contest the details of the will. In cases of a contested will, proceedings will take place in Surrogate’s Court, where the judge, or surrogate, will decide if the will should be proved and handed to the executor.
Proving A Will
They may also completely disregard the will.
A surrogate may admit the will as is, admit portions of the will, admit an earlier version of the will, or not admit the will at all. If the court disregards a will, they proceed as if there was no will. The surrogate assigns an administrator to distribute the assets among the descendants.
Probate can be a long, drawn-out process under the best of circumstances. If there is a will contest, the process can take years and be very time-consuming and expensive.
We Are Ready To Help
You do not have to, nor should you, attempt to resolve probate and administration issues on your own. We can answer your questions and help you protect your interests. Call 631-840-6580 to schedule a consultation. From our offices in Babylon and Garden City, we represent clients throughout Long Island, the Five Boroughs, Suffolk County and the surrounding areas.