The death of a loved one can create so much emotional pain that most people would rather do almost anything other than deal with his or her estate. Unfortunately, that is not generally a real option since each estate must eventually be settled at some point after death. If you’ve had a love one pass away and he or she left assets behind without any automatic provision for transfer of ownership, it’s likely that you will have to have some contact with a probate court. If that’s the case, then it can be helpful to know more about the probate process. These resources can help.
What’s the Reason for Probate?
Many people are under the mistaken impression that their estates can avoid probate just as long as they have made out a legally binding will. Unfortunately, that is just a myth. In reality, probate is necessary for the distribution of any assets that don’t automatically transfer ownership after death. So, while assets that are held by a living trust would not be subject to probate, assets in the decedent’s own name – bank accounts, homes, etc. – would need probate unless other techniques for automatic transfer of ownership were used.
Once a loved one passes away, you could come face to face with the probate process in one of several ways. You might be named as an executor of the will. If so, then you will have to be involved with the court through petitions and other interactions as you work to fulfill the obligations associated with administering the settlement of the estate. That typically entails everything from cataloging his or her assets and notifying creditors to distributing inheritances and giving a final accounting of the process to the supervising court.
Even if you are not an executor, you might have valid cause to challenge the terms of the will. That too would bring you into contact with the probate court. In either event, you will need to know who to contact and have at least a minimal understanding of how probate works in the state of New York. Many times, the best option is to contact an experienced probate attorney to get guidance and assistance. In addition, you can use the following resources to develop a better understanding of probate.
Get Good Information About Probate, Taxes, and Estate Provisions in New York
Probate is a complex process, and it is wise to refer to experts and expert resources when you need to gain insight into how everything is designed to work. For the state of New York, the courts have compiled a fairly exhaustive amount of information on their state website. There is also a selection of probate forms that you can download and fill out on your own here. The New York State Bar also provides probate forms for download on that organization’s website, as well as a host of other information that can help you learn more about the probate process.
You may also need to reference the state of New York’s probate laws, which are contained in the New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act – SCP. That will provide you with the actual legal acts that empower the various rules and procedures you will encounter.
Because New York has its own estate tax, it is important to understand whether a given estate is subject to its provisions. All of the information about the state’s estate tax can be found on the Department of Taxation and Finance’s website, or by calling them at the relevant number found here.
Despite many efforts to create uniformity in the probate laws and estate tax implications in the different states across the country, there remain many differences. That means that, depending on where a person lives and dies, the laws that apply to the dissolution of the decedent’s estate might be very different from those in your own state. If you need to cope with another state’s probate requirement, it is helpful to understand those differences. You can find a listing of all of the different states and their laws on the Everplans website.
New York Probate Court Resources
At some point, you may need to get into contact with the probate court processing the estate. You may be the executor, which would mean that you have petitions to file and reports to give. Or you could just want to challenge the will. Whatever your need, you will need to be able to reach the appropriate court. The New York Courts website has a Court Locator that you can use to identify the court in the county in which your loved one died. If you are an executor and need to file papers like the will and death certificate, you may even be able to do that online through the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System. You can check to see if your probate court authorized e-filing of this nature here.
Estate Planning with Probate in Mind
If you are interested in probate, there is a good chance you may also want to consider your own estate planning as well. This can be an important part of preparing for your future, and can help to secure your legacy and establish your last wishes. There are many resources available to learn more about estate planning in New York, including the following:
As you can see, there is no shortage of resources available to help you in your efforts to familiarize yourself with New York Probate matters. Together, these resources can provide you with the insight you need to better navigate the probate process when a loved one dies, or begin your own estate planning process. However, even these resources are never a substitute for an experienced New York attorney’s help. To ensure that your experience with probate is as efficient and beneficial as possible, contact the estate planning experts at the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C. today. Just call us at (914) 939-6565 or contact us online to get the probate assistance you need.