You may have executed a will thinking that dispersing your assets after you are gone will be simple and quick. Your daughter gets the house, your son gets the cars, and the money is dispersed equally according to the will, right? Unfortunately, administering a will may not always be so quick and simple.
Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. It resolves all claims and distributes the deceased person’s property under a will or, when there is no will, according to the state’s laws of intestacy.
In New York, the probate process is started by filing the original will and a probate petition in the Surrogate Court located in the county where the person died. The court will issue a decree granting probate and issue Letters Testamentary to the executor named in the will (or appointed if there is no will) that gives him the authority to administer the estate. The executor is responsible for:
Identifying the decedent’s property
Having the property appraised
Paying the estate’s debts and taxes
Distributing the remaining property to the beneficiaries as the will (or state law) directs
Usually, the simpler an estate is the easier and quicker the probate procedure goes. In fact, if a decedent’s estate amounts to less than $30,000, the probate procedure can be bypassed altogether. Nevertheless, when probate is administered, the entire process typically takes less than a year. If there are no complications, a simple probate may only take a few weeks depending on the court’s schedule. However, it can also take longer than one year if there are complications, contested matters, or a complex will.
The administration of a will sometimes can be daunting and the probate process can be a little tricky to navigate.