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Representing executors, administrators, heirs and beneficiaries in probate and estate administration proceedings in Surrogate Court in Elmira and throughout Chemung County, Steuben County and Schuyler County, NY.

If you or a loved one passes away, your estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration. This is where your assets are managed and distributed.  By placing your assets into a well-drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration will be necessary, although the successor trustee will still need to administer the distribution of your assets. The length of time needed to complete the probate of your estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate, the local rules, and schedule of the probate court.

Every Probate Estate is Unique, But Most Involve the Following Steps:

  • Filing a petition with the proper probate court (Surrogate Court) in Chemung County New York or other Counties.
  • Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists).
  • Sale of estate assets.
  • Payment of estate debts to rightful creditors.
  • Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
  • Petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a Will) or Administrator for the estate.
  • Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator.
  • Final distribution of assets to heirs.

What Happens if Someone Objects to a Will in New York?

An objection to a will, also known as a “Will contest” is a fairly common occurrence during the probate proceedings and can be incredibly costly to litigate.

In order to contest a will, a person has to have legal “standing” to raise objections.  This usually occurs when, for example, children are to receive disproportionate shares under the will, or when distribution schemes change from a prior will to a later will.  In addition to disputes over the tangible distributions, will contests can be a quarrel over who will be designated to serve as Executor.

Does Probate Oversee and Distribute All Property of the Deceased?

Probate is a process through which title is transferred from the name of the decedent to the names of the beneficiaries.

There are certain types of assets that are considered “non-probate assets” and do not go through probate.  These include:

  • Property titled as “joint tenants with right of survivorship.”  Such property passes to the co-owners by operation of law and do not go through probate.
  • Retirement accounts such as IRA and 401(k) accounts where there are designated beneficiaries.
  • Life insurance policies.
  • Bank accounts with “pay on death” (POD) designations or “in trust for” designations.
  • Property owned by a living trust.  Legal title to such property passes to successor trustees without having to go through probate.

Do I Get Paid for Serving as an Executor?

Executors are reimbursed for all legitimate out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the process of managing and distributing the decedent’s estate.  As Executor, you may be entitled to statutory fees in NY, which vary depending on the size of the probate estate. You also have to fulfill your fiduciary duties on behalf of the estate with the highest degree of integrity and can be held liable for mismanagement of estate assets in your care.

How Much Does Probate Cost?  How Long Does It Take?

The cost and duration of probate can vary substantially depending on a number of factors, such as the value and complexity of the estate, the existence of a Will, and the location of real property owned by the estate.  Will contests or disputes with alleged creditors over the debts of the estate can also add significant cost and delay.  Common expenses of an estate include executor fees, attorney fees, accounting fees, court fees, appraisal costs, and surety bonds.

Your Probate Attorney in Elmira and throughout Chemung County, Steuben County and Schuyler County, NY.

Donald W Mustico, Attorney at Law works as an advisor during your probate experience, assisting you with your fiduciary and estate execution duties and proper distribution of assets. We also help protect and represent you during any Will contests and objections.

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