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 $30,000 .
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 then it will issue Letters Testamentary appointing the person named in the WIll as the Executor.
The Executor's duty is to collect the decedent's property, pay any debts owed by the decedent, then distribute 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 Wheatly Pritchard & Associates PLLC are experienced in the probate process and can help guide you through the complexities of administering your loved one's estate.
When a person dies without a Will, State 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. Unmarried spouses, charities, and friends cannot inherit under the intestacy laws.
In New York, If the Decedent has...
a spouse (husband or wife) and no children then spouse inherits everything;
children* but no spouse then the children inherit everything;
spouse and children*, then the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half of the balance. The children* inherit everything else;
parents but no spouse and no children* then the parents inherit everything;
siblings (brothers or sisters) but no spouse, children*, or parents then the siblings inherit everything;
* If a child dies before the Decedent and had children of their own, then the Decedent would have grandchildren.
Those grandchildren would step into the Decedent's child's place and inherit in place of the child.
* The above intestacy laws can be found at http://nycourts.gov/Courthelp/WhenSomeoneDies/intestacy.shtml