When a person passes away, the process of distributing their assets and fulfilling their wishes can take anywhere from three to six months, to even years in more complex cases. The time frame for probate depends on whether there is a will, who the living relatives are, and if there are any disputes or delays. In New York, the Surrogacy Court oversees the probate process and the executor appointed by the court is responsible for delivering the inheritance and closing the estate. The probate process is only necessary when a person has left behind probate assets.
These are assets that require a court order to be transferred. If all heirs can be located, the will is not contested, no appraisals are needed, and debts are easily resolved, probate can be completed in three to six months. In more complex cases, especially those involving a contested will, legalization can take years to complete. At a minimum, you must wait seven months from the date of your court appointment before closing the estate.
This is the deadline for any unknown creditor to file their claims against the inheritance. If the will is challenged, a probate attorney with experience in probate litigation and New York State rules of civil practice can work with the executor to resolve the matter. Fortunately, New York has simplified probate procedures for estates that fall below a certain value threshold. A number of estate planning tools can also remove assets from estate so that they are not subject to this process.
In addition, it is especially recommended that a person hire an estate attorney when they expect someone to be challenging the legalization of the deceased's will. The petitioner must notify the decedent's next of kin and the beneficiaries of the decedent's will of the probate procedure. Estate settlement (also known as estate administration) is the phase during which you, as the court-appointed executor, must collect estate assets, organize and pay debts, and file all final taxes. In addition, if the deceased had real estate and a will, the heirs will have to request an inheritance procedure. Unless there is an ongoing litigation or other delays in the sale of real estate or personal property, the assets must be distributed to the beneficiaries of the deceased and the petition to remove the personal representative and liquidate the estate must be filed with the Court. Another popular tool to avoid legalizing titled assets (such as real estate) involves tipping those assets into a joint lease with the right to survive, or a lease in its entirety (only available to a married couple).