Understanding Probate in New York

New York Probate Lawyer

New York Probate Lawyer Lesly R. Devereaux works with clients on the the process of settling the estate of a deceased person (Probate). This involves paying off any debts, identifying and cataloging assets and distributing them in accordance with New York law. The assets distributed through probate are those that were not included specifically in the will and that are wholly owned by the deceased individual.

Probate proceedings are not necessary in all cases. Estates of less than $50,000 and those with an established estate plan can often avoid the necessity for this complex legal process in the state of New York. Additionally, estates that have a valid will or living trusts that account for all their assets will not be required to undergo probate in the state of New York. If a will is present, the executor of the will is usually responsible for managing the probate process. If no valid will has been found, the court may appoint an Administrator to handle probate proceedings on behalf of the estate.

Steps in the Probate Process

If probate is necessary, the executor of the estate will be responsible for a few different activities to complete this process:

First, the probate petition and will, if any, must be filed. A certified copy of the death certificate and other supporting documents are also required and must accompany the probate petition, which is filed in the New York county in which the deceased individual most recently lived. A filing fee is required for this initial petition.

  • The executor will then perform a comprehensive inventory of all valuable property, including real estate, bank accounts, jewelry, vehicles and other items of value. If the exact value of an item or asset is not known, the executor is required to obtain an independent appraisal of the worth of these items.
  • Once all the assets have been identified and valued, the executor of the probate proceedings will pay off any outstanding debts and obligations, including taxes due from the deceased individual or the estate. If the estate does not have adequate cash on hand to pay the debts directly, it may be necessary to sell some of the assets in the estate to satisfy these financial obligations.
  • When all debts and outstanding obligations have been paid by the estate, the remaining property will be distributed in accordance with the provisions of the will of the deceased individual. If no will has been found, the assets will be divided among the potential heirs in accordance with the state laws of New York. Surviving spouses, children, siblings, parents and grandchildren are among the most common heirs-at-law in New York probate proceedings.

The executor of the probate proceedings is entitled to receive a fair commission for their efforts in administering the estate. In many cases, working with a New York probate lawyer is also necessary to ensure that every step of the process is completed in the correct way.

Avoiding Probate

Working with an attorney who specializes in elder law and estate planning is usually the best way to avoid issues that could require probate for your estate. Your New York probate lawyer will provide you with options that can allow you to provide clear instructions for the orderly transfer of your assets. In some cases, it may be beneficial to create trusts that hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. This can sometimes allow the assets to transfer automatically to your designated recipients upon your death. Working with an attorney is often the most practical way to prevent your estate and your beneficiaries from being subjected to the complex and lengthy probate process.

The law office of Lesly R. Devereaux can offer the right legal representation for families and individuals in planning the eventual disposition of their assets and estate. We can also help in managing probate issues after a loved one has died. If you are looking for a qualified and knowledgeable New York probate lawyer, attorney Lesly Devereaux has more than 20 years of experience in the legal field. Our law firm is committed to providing you with the right support for managing all your legal affairs. Schedule an appointment with New York Probate Lawyer Lesly R. Devereaux or email our office at to schedule a consultation with Lesly and the team. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you now and in the future.

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