New York Probate and Estate Administration Lawyer
If you need help settling your loved one’s estate, please contact the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff. We will represent you in court and ensure the correct distribution of assets.
Administrating an estate can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. You’re coping with the death of a family member while trying to pay off debts, transfer property, and sell assets. Complications often arise, such as when assets are complex, the person died without a will, or the will is contested.
At the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff, you will receive personalized attention from an experienced and trusted New York probate and estate administration lawyer. Our attorney will guide you through every step and protect your interests.
Call the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff today for your initial consultation at (347) 640-0993. We can meet with you by video or at a location most convenient for you, whether it’s our Manhattan or Long Island office, or your home or office.
Probate and Administration Proceedings
If a person died in New York State and had a will naming you as executor, you typically file the original will, certified death certificate, and a probate petition with the Surrogate’s Court in the county in which they lived. The court will grant you letters testamentary, authorizing you to act on behalf of the estate. Your responsibilities will include paying debts and expenses, distributing the assets, and settling the remainder of the estate.
However, if your family member dies without a will, you must file an administration petition instead, along with a certified death certificate and a copy of the paid funeral bill. The court will determine whether you can serve as administrator of the estate. Often the administrator is a spouse or child. The parents, siblings, or others with an interest in the estate may be eligible too. If you qualify, the court will issue letters of administration, giving you similar powers as an executor.
A family tree affidavit or other documents may also be required, depending on who the surviving relatives are, which county the court is in, and many other factors.
Probating a Will in New York
When you’re a surviving family member, you must go through probate before settling the estate. Probate is the legal process of a court reviewing and validating a person’s will before it appoints an executor. In New York, the judge is called a Surrogate, and is responsible for overseeing the procedure and protecting the rights of everyone with interests in the estate.
A valid will requires multiple elements, such as:
- Age – The testator, the person who creates the will, is at least 18 years old
- Testamentary capacity – The testator is of sound mind and understands the actions they take by creating the will
- Voluntary action – The testator cannot be under duress or undue influence
- Signature – The testator and at least two witnesses must sign the document
- Declaration – The testator must inform the witnesses that the document they’re signing is the will at some point during execution
The person initiating the probate proceeding petitions the court for appointment as the estate executor. It is the executor’s responsibility to notify all beneficiaries named in the will, and family members who would inherit if the will is not valid, of the probate proceeding.
Handling the Probate Process
You must go through multiple steps when you begin the probate process:
- Obtain waivers or citations – The proposed executor must either obtain waivers from family members who would inherit if the will is not valid, or ask the court to issue a citation setting a hearing date for those who wish to object.
- File petition – The proposed executor must file a probate petition in the county of the deceased’s residence, along with the original will, a certified copy of the death certificate, and either the waivers or a request for citations.
- Provide notice – Once the executor is appointed, they are often required to notify people or companies with interests in the estate that it has entered probate.
- Inventory the assets – The executor must also have the deceased’s property appraised to determine its value.
- Pay taxes and debts – The estate might be subject to various estate or income taxes. Sometimes the executor must sell some assets to satisfy the taxes and pay off the deceased’s debts.
- Distribute property – Once the executor pays all debts and taxes owed, they can transfer the remaining property to named beneficiaries.
Estate administration is not simple, but the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff believes in making the process easier and more efficient. For example, if you choose to, you can list and categorize estate assets and determine their value using inventory management software.
Whether you’re the executor, administrator, or beneficiary of an estate, you can count on your New York probate and estate administration lawyer to handle every step. We are familiar with unique circumstances, such as ancillary probate for New York property when the main probate proceeding is in another state or country. We can also coordinate settling a New York estate that includes assets in other states or countries. And we have experience representing international clients and estates with assets in foreign countries, such as France and Canada.
Determining the Inheritance in an Administration Proceeding
If someone dies without a last will and testament, New York intestate succession laws determine how the property will be distributed.
That means the deceased’s closest relatives will receive the assets, divided as the law dictates. For example, a surviving spouse inherits everything if the deceased left no descendants. Children or more remote descendants inherit everything if there is no surviving spouse. If the deceased left both a surviving spouse and descendants, the assets are divided between them.
Often, the division is not what the deceased would have wanted. For example, an unmarried life partner will inherit nothing, while a second cousin the deceased never met could inherit everything. Therefore, it’s crucial to express your wishes through a will drafted by an experienced trusts and estates attorney.
The New York probate and estate administration lawyer from the Law & Mediation Office of Bracha Etengoff is ready to represent you in your case. We will prepare the proper documents for the court and guide you during each aspect of the probate or administration proceeding.
If you’re administering your family member’s estate, call (347) 640-0993 today for your confidential consultation. We can meet by video, in our Manhattan or Long Island office, or in your home or office.