What is Probate Court and How Does it Work?

In New York State, probate proceedings take place in the part of the court known as the “Surrogacy Court” in the county where the deceased resided. This court is responsible for rendering the final judgment on the division and distribution of assets to beneficiaries. A probate proceeding begins by looking at whether or not the deceased person has provided a legalized will. Many states have a specialized probate court that is responsible for overseeing matters related to the death of a person.

A will is a legal procedure by which a court oversees the distribution of the assets of a person who has died. When a property owner dies, their assets are usually reviewed by a probate court. When a person dies, who inherits depends on whether there is a will and who the living relatives are and their relationship to the person who died. When the person who died (the deceased) had a will, then the will must be filed with the Surrogacy Court and admitted (approved) for legalization.

Probate is the process of proving that the will is valid (legally acceptable). During the succession, the will must be proven to the satisfaction of the Court that it is the Last Will and Testament of the person who died. Once the Judge in Surrogacy Court, who is called the Surrogate, is satisfied that the will is legally acceptable, they appoint an executor to deliver the inheritance (everything of value) that belonged to the person who died and fulfill their wishes. The Surrogacy Court oversees this process. For fairly simple probate, with or without a will, it is possible to go through a will without a lawyer.

This includes locating and determining the value of the person's assets, paying their final bills and taxes, and distributing the rest of their estate to its rightful beneficiaries. There are steps that can be taken to avoid probate, such as creating a living trust, clearly naming beneficiaries in all investment, banking and retirement accounts, and establishing joint ownership of certain assets. When all of these steps have been completed, the executor can ask for permission from the court to distribute what remains of the decedent's assets to its beneficiaries named in their will. Probate costs include court filing fees, costs of posting newspaper notices, attorney's and executor's fees. In addition, since proceedings are publicly recorded, avoiding succession would ensure that all agreements are made privately. Pension plans, life insurance income, 401k plans, medical savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) that have designated beneficiaries will not need to be tested.

The term will can be used in a variety of ways; therefore, it can have several different but similar meanings. While succession can range from a few weeks to a few years, it usually takes about nine months to complete. If jointly owned asset is real property, legalization is necessary to remove deceased party from title. Probate court is an important part of estate planning as it ensures that assets are distributed according to wishes of deceased person. It also helps protect against manipulation or forgery of wills.

The probate court website usually has forms to fill out to file an objection if there are any issues with manipulation or forgery.

Kathleen Huelsman
Kathleen Huelsman

Infuriatingly humble social media maven. Amateur internet expert. Award-winning music junkie. Extreme problem solver. Extreme twitter buff.

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