Probate is the process of validating a will and administering the estate of a deceased. Many estate planning techniques are used to avoid probate, as the process can be lengthy and incur fees. But if you’ve not had to deal with the probate process, you may have several questions, and we’ll address the most frequently asked questions regarding the probate process.
If a person has a will, does their estate go through probate?
Yes, every estate goes through probate, but on the other hand, not all property goes through the probate process. For instance, the proceeds of a life insurance policy with a named beneficiary will not pass through probate.
Why does probate take so long?
There are several steps that are taken during the probate process that make it lengthy, including:
- Paperwork is filed in the local probate court, in New York, Probate Court is called Surrogate’s Court.
- The validity of the will, if there is one, is proven.
- The executor of the estate is named.
- An inventory of the deceased’s assets and liabilities is taken and filed with the court. This is normally the most time-consuming task, as local notices are made and creditors contacted.
- Relatives and creditors are officially notified.
- Debts are paid, and if necessary, property sold to pay them.
- A tax return for the estate is filed.
- Property is distributed according to the terms of a will, or if there is no will, according to the laws of the state.
Do all estates go through probate?
In New York, there is a process known as the Small Estates Affidavit Program for estates that are valued under $30,000, and certain types of property, such as jointly owned real estate, may not count towards this threshold.
Do I need an attorney to handle the probate process?
A probate attorney is not required, however, probate can range from the relatively simple to very complex. Since you do not know what issues may come up during probate, a probate attorney can help not only address any issues, but handle the large amount of filings and paperwork involved, as well as make the necessary appearances. Remember, probate occurs at a time when family and loved ones are grieving, and may not be up to handling the process.