What is Probate and How Can a Probate Lawyer Help You?

The official home page of the New York State Unified Judicial System handles more than three million cases each year, many of which involve wills. If a person dies with a will, the type of proceeding filed is called a will and the assets are divided according to the will. If you have been tasked with establishing the estate of a loved one, you may be wondering if you need to hire an attorney. Conventional advice for executors and probate representatives usually suggests that the first step is to hire an attorney.

But what is a probate lawyer? A probate lawyer is someone who helps guide an estate through the probate court process. When liquidating an estate, there is a long list of tasks that an estate attorney can help with. Succession is required for any asset or account that does not have a named joint owner or beneficiary if the estate reaches a certain valuation threshold. In the absence of a will, the court will appoint an estate administrator to handle the estate under the state rules of intestate succession in New York.

When proving a will, the judge's job is to make sure that you and the witnesses executed your will properly, that you were in your right mind when you signed it, and that you were not unduly influenced to do so. The estate and probate administration process includes authenticating a deceased person's will, reviewing their assets, and paying outstanding debts and final taxes. Once a will has been located, the first step in the probate process is to file a petition with the probate court requesting that the will be proved. There are shortcuts available which may involve simplified probate procedures (often referred to as summary probate) or using a fully out-of-court process, such as filing a simple affidavit to the person or institution that owns the asset.

In some cases, a New York probate lawyer may be hired by someone who wants to challenge a will or who is a beneficiary under a will or an administration who wants to ensure their interests are protected during probate or administration proceedings. Beneficiaries who will inherit something under the will must be officially informed of the probate procedure. The executor files the original will and a certified death certificate, along with a form called a petition for probate and other supporting documents in the Surrogacy Court in the county where the person who died lived and had their primary residence. Succession is the legal process that must be followed for a will to be validated before anything can be distributed to beneficiaries.

If your loved one named beneficiaries and stated their wishes in a will, and died with only assets in their name, then their estate must go through succession - which is when the court validates a will. The testator (the person who drafts the will) names an executor in the will whose task it is to advance it through succession. Having an experienced probate lawyer on your side can help make sure that all of these steps are taken care of properly and efficiently. They can help you navigate through all of the legal processes involved in succession and ensure that your loved one's wishes are carried out according to their wishes.

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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