Death and taxes are two absolute certainties in life and the often coincide along with some potentially lingering debts when people pass on. New York’s probate process ensures estates are settled with debts paid and assets distributed in accordance with a will or other estate plan when available. When there is no estate plan or will, then the probate court will initiate a process to dissolve the estate.
Two types of cases
The probate process divides cases into two types. Those are standard cases with estates worth more than $50,000 and small estates for those with assets totaling no more than $50,000 in value. A voluntary administrative proceeding can dispose of small estate assets relatively quickly. Standard cases generally take longer and will require an executor to file the will and a copy of the death certificate. The next of kin can file a petition to start the process when there is no executor.
Probate petition lists heirs
The petition will provide a full listing of all heirs to the estate. Those heirs legally are called the “decedent’s distributees” and must be listed to obtain some or all remaining assets after debts are settled. Those heirs must be served with a notice of the pending probate case and their involvement as heirs. Whenever a legally valid will or estate plan is in place, the probate process will follow it as closely as possible. When an executor exists, the court names the executor and enables heirs to challenge the appointment.
Potentially complicated process
The bigger the estate, the more likely complications will arise and drag out the final process of settling estate debts and distributing remaining assets. From potential legal challenges to an appointed executor to the validity of a will or any claims against the estate, the probate process could become a lengthy process complicated by emotional factors due to the death of a loved one. An experienced probate attorney can help you to better understand these matters.