When a person dies with a will and assets valued at $30,000 or more the will goes through a legal process called probate. First, the court makes a determination about the validity of the will. To be valid a will must be properly executed and reflect the wishes of the Testator. After a will is probated then the Executor has authority to act.
In order to be valid, a New York will must be signed in the presence of at least two witnesses and each must sign in the presence of the other. The Testator must be competent and not under any duress or undue influence. There are some rare exceptions for military personnel.
The probate process begins by filing the original will and a probate petition. If all is in order, the court will issue a probate decree and issue “Letters Testamentary” to the Executor. If anyone believes that the will is not valid, they can contest it. Then the Executor is responsible for identifying and inventorying the decedent’s property, having the property appraised, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the property.
Many probate matters are challenging and you might want to consult with an experienced probate attorney. Some complications that may arise include difficulty in locating interested parties, defects in the language of the will, and oppositions to the will. A simple probate may take a few weeks, whereas a contested probate could be a lengthy matter. An experienced probate attorney can assist in ensuring that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
The law office of Weinstein, Chase, Messinger & Peters serves Brooklyn and the greater New York area with effective legal services regarding personal injury, medical malpractice, real estate and estate planning. If you need our help, contact Weinstein Chase, Messinger & Peters for you free initial consultation.