Trust and Estate Administration

New York Probate, Estate and Trust Administration

Serving Clients in New York City and the New York Metropolitan Area

How Does Probate Work?

There can be terrific grief and pain at the loss of a loved one. When you add other stressors, such as taxes and finances, you can find things unravel in noticeably short order.

Part of the responsibilities or duties of the person in charge of settling an estate being a spouse, family member, an executor or administrator of an estate is to control the stress during the probate process.This person in charge is often referred to as the “personal representative” of the estate.

The fundamental duties of a personal representative (also known as an “executor” or “administrator”) is to protect the assets and interests of the beneficiaries. One way to make the probate process run smoothly is to have the necessary information about the estate and the decedent’s wishes before handling it as best you can.​

Read on for some essential elements about the probate process.

What Should I Know About the Probate Process?

A personal representative is required to prepare and file an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and list all claims or debts outstanding. The time frame for this important chore is set by each State’s statute. This is filed with the relevant State County Probate Court. This inventory should detail all of the assets that did not pass by operation of law or beneficiary designation. The property must be valued and even appraised, as necessary. The claims include debts due and owing to the estate (not debts the estate owes to another party). The inventory provides both potential beneficiaries and creditors of the estate an idea of the estate’s assets and claims. Beneficiaries want to know what they might get, and creditors want to know if there is enough money to get paid. If the inventory is filed late, the representative could be fined and removed, which would slow down the process.

One thing to realize if you are a beneficiary is that the Will may be provided soon after the funeral, but the gifts and bequests cannot be given out at that time. Yes, you may be entitled to the assets, but the inheritance is subject to the estate’s administration and the rights of the taxing authority and creditors. The representative must settle the decedent’s debts and claims before he or she can make any distribution of the assets. There is a seven-month creditor hold in New York State. So, beneficiaries, do not go to Grandma’s house with a moving truck and start taking whatever you want. Most likely, the representative is doing his or her job and making sure everything stays where it is until law, tax and probate requirements are filed and completed.

As noted above, the estate’s personal representative also must give proper notices required by the probate court.

The representative must keep the beneficiaries in the loop, to include providing each with notice, via certified mail, that the Last Will has been admitted to probate with a copy of the Will. In addition, the representative must inform the beneficiaries regarding any information that might affect their rights. For instance, beneficiaries have the right to ask for an accounting from the executor/representative.

The representative is responsible for the care and maintenance of estate property, treating it with even greater care than his or her own property. The representative is able to sell any property that is perishable or would deteriorate in value during the probate process. Along the way, there are taxes to be paid and returns to be filed, along with many other details. The probate process in the Metropolitan area of New York can take up to one year.

As you can see, being a representative is an important role. Consequently, an executor can be removed if proven to have been guilty of any gross misconduct or mismanagement in the role of representative. The representative may be subject to a suit for breach of fiduciary duty.

It’s Okay to Ask for Help

So, you see, there is more than a little pressure on the executor, administrator, trustee, and the personal representative. As a result, it is essential that the representative work in concert with an experienced estate planning attorney such as the attorneys at the Grimaldi Yeung Law Group to guide the representative or beneficiaries during this process, and avoid all of the hidden or potential problems.

Contact Grimaldi Yeung Law Group today for assistance.

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