The Process of Probating a Will in New York

The probate process in New York is a legal requirement that ensures the estate and will of a deceased person are correctly handled.

To “probate a will,” means to initiate a legal proceeding ensuring the last wishes of the deceased are carried out to the best ability of the executor and the court. If you are named an executor or personal representative in the will of a loved one or associate, your first step is to gain the authority of the court to administer the estate.

As estate administration attorneys, our law firm works regularly with families seeking to understand the probate process. When you have an overall picture of the process, it is easier to handle the steps that will lead to the final settling of the will and the estate.

The probate process in New York

Here is a basic outline of the probate process in New York:

  • Getting started: Opening a probate case means filing documents with the court that include the original will, a certified copy of the Death Certificate of the deceased, and a probate petition, among other documents and a filing fee. If the estate holds significant wealth, it is a good idea to have an attorney prepare or review your petition prior to filing. If the value of the estate is less than $30,000, you can go through the Small Estate process in the State of New York.
  • Proceeding with the probate: After your probate petition is filed, you are authorized with letters testamentary to act as executor of the estate. Most of the work of estate administration occurs outside of the courtroom. You will gather, inventory, and value assets, including financial accounts, valuable property, real estate, and other wealth
  • Accounting and tax returns: During the probate process, as part of your duties, you will prepare, or direct to be prepared, tax returns for the estate. After distributions are made to beneficiaries according to the directions provided by the will, a final accounting and tax return is filed with the Surrogate’s Court to settle the estate and seek your discharge as executor.

Because you have a legal obligation to the estate, be sure to get legal counsel if questions arise, problems occur, or you are aware of assets but are unable to locate them, among other issues.

If you are named the executor of a complicated or large estate, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced probate attorney as you file the original papers for probate. A reputable attorney remains on hand to answer your questions, provide detailed explanation and guidance as you manage the estate, and take care of tasks and responsibilities along the way.

Experienced probate attorneys serving New York and New Jersey

With more than half a century of experience protecting and promoting the rights of individuals and families, you can turn to Lissner & Lissner LLP for experienced guidance on estate administration, planning, trusts, real estate, and restitution and property claims for victims of Nazi persecution. Contact us or call (212) 307-1499 when you have questions.

Micheal Lissner
About the Author: Michael Lissner
Micheal D. Lissner is an experienced trust and estate planning and administration attorney serving the New York City area. He handles cases ranging from estate planning to trust administration, medicaid planning, elder law, and representation of survivors of the Holocaust and their heirs