Probate – FAQ’s

Q. WHAT IS PROBATE?

A. Probate is the process of proving that a will is valid, then transferring the decedent's property to the persons named in the will. In the probate process, final taxes and valid debts are paid.

Q. IF A PERSON DIES WITHOUT A WILL, IS HIS/HER ESTATE PROBATED?

A. Technically, no. If a person dies without a will he/she is said to die intestate. The estate of a person who dies without a will is administered. In New York State, administration is a slightly different process, with slightly different laws and rules.

Q. IS PROBATE OR ADMINISTRATION ALWAYS REQUIRED?

A. No. There are many circumstances where probate or administration of a decedent's estate is unnecessary.

Q. IS PROBATE EXPENSIVE?

A. Probate costs nothing if you can avoid it. The first thing that we evaluate in every case is whether probate is necessary. If not, then there is no probate expense. Even if probate is necessary, there are circumstances where costs can be kept low. For example, New York State has a small estates law that can keep costs down. The expense of probate depends upon the circumstances of the estate. We are happy to provide a free consultation so that you can understand these costs before the process starts.

Q. I AM NAMED AS EXECUTOR IN THE WILL. WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?

A. The named executor first determines if there is a reason to probate the will. If there is, the named executor presents the will to the court for probate, marshals the assets of the decedent, pays the expenses of probate, pays taxes and other debts, and distributes the estate according to the will.

Q. HOW LONG DOES PROBATE TAKE?

A. Our experience is that the average probate process takes nine to 12 months. It can be shorter or longer based upon circumstances.