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Skilled Guidance In New York Probate And Estate Administration Matters

When someone passes away, the affairs of their estate will need to be attended to and their assets will need to be distributed to heirs. How this is accomplished, however, will largely depend on whether the person died with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate). In the case of the former, the decedent’s estate will go through probate and be distributed according to the will. In the latter case, the estate will go through the administration process and the assets will be distributed according to state intestacy laws.

If you’ve recently lost someone you love and are now attempting to settle their final affairs, the skilled and caring attorneys at Wheatley Pritchard & Associates PLLC can guide you through either the probate or the estate administration process. We will be there to answer your questions, assist with your duties as executor or administrator, and provide much-needed support during this difficult time.

What To Know About Probate

Probate is the legal process of transferring an individual’s assets or property upon death. In New York, a will only needs to be probated if the decedent (the person who died) had assets in their own name and the value of those assets is more than $50,000.

A court (surrogate’s court) must determine the validity of the will. To be valid, a will must be in writing and signed by the decedent in the presence of two witnesses.

If the court determines that the will is valid, it will then issue letters testamentary appointing the person named in the will as the executor. The executor’s duties include:

  • Collecting the decedent’s property
  • Paying any debts owed by the decedent
  • Distributing any remaining property to the decedent’s beneficiaries

The probate process is fairly involved and can be complicated, especially if there is a will contest. The attorneys at Wheatley Pritchard & Associates PLLC are experienced in the probate process and can help guide you from start to finish.

Administration Of An Estate When There Is No Will

When a person dies without a will, state inheritance laws determine who will receive the decedent’s property. State laws also decide who may fill the role of administrator (executor) and will appoint someone based on where that person falls in the priority list.

In New York, only surviving (married) spouses, children and blood relatives of the decedent will inherit. There is a specific hierarchy of inheritance rights, with spouse and children at the top. If the decedent had neither a spouse nor children, inheritance rights transfer to the decedent’s family of origin (surviving parents, then siblings). Unmarried spouses, charities and friends cannot inherit under the intestacy laws.

Even though intestate inheritance is dictated by state law, it is nonetheless beneficial to work with an attorney who can provide case-specific information and advice relevant to your loved one’s estate and your duties as administrator/executor.

Contact Us Today To Get Started

The attorneys at Wheatley Pritchard & Associates PLLC are happy to answer any estate law questions you may have, and we will work diligently to make the process as easy, convenient and efficient as possible. Our office is located in Long Island City, and we serve clients throughout New York City’s five boroughs and surrounding counties. To schedule your initial consultation, you can reach out online or call 347-815-1219.