The Probate Process

Probate is essentially the process when a testator creates a will and the last will and testament is inspected and verified through Surrogate’s Court. Probate typically takes at a minimum six months and is usually a very straight forward process when an attorney is dealing with a simple estate with no contests.

Upon a persons passing a family member will typically hire an estate attorney to file a petition in surrogates court to have the will admitted as the decedents last will and testament and to appoint an administrator to distribute the remainder of the decedents assets and pay any bills. Notice must be given in Surrogates court to various family members who are entitled to notice who will then have the opportunity to contest the application.

Ordering Death Certificates
It is is a good idea to order numerous Death Certificates. Many institutions that the executor will be dealing with in settling the deceased affairs will require a copy. These can include providing to financial institutions, life insurers, and for tax related purposes.

Compiling a list of all the decedents assets
Individuals should be prudent to compile a list of all their assets in doing estate planning. The executor of the estate should as well take stock of all the assets of the decedent. Not all of these assets will need to pass through probate. Such non-probate assets include trust assets that were gifted during the decedents lifetime, life insurance policies, Payable on Death (POD) accounts and Jointly held property that transfer to surviving member upon death

Paying bills and Creditors
The estate is in charge of paying the debts of the deceased person, including any income tax and estate taxes that are owed. Before paying any debts, the executor is responsible for ensuring the estate’s assets can cover all of them.

If the deceased person didn’t keep a detailed accounting of monthly bills, income and debts, you, as the executor, will need to take the time to make those calculations and assessments.

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