When a loved one dies with a will in New York, their estate must be probated. This can be a confusing time, especially if you are grieving your loss and have never gone through the probate process before. The situation may become even more confusing if you have been designated in your loved one’s will as the executor of their estate. The following are some basics on probate in New York and an executor’s duties that you may find useful if you have recently lost a loved one.
What is probate?
Probate is the legal process in which, following a person’s death, their will is approved by the court, the distribution of assets per the terms of the will are carried out and their debts are paid off. In New York, probate takes place in the “Surrogate’s Court” located in the county where the deceased passed away. The deceased’s estate that will be probated is comprised of all their assets, property and possessions minus certain assets that are exempt from probate. Some assets that avoid probate are trusts, retirement and financial accounts with a named beneficiary and life insurance policies. Most wills name an executor who is tasked with carrying out the probate process.
What are the responsibilities of the executor of the estate?
The executor of an estate in New York has numerous duties. They must locate and inventory all the deceased’s assets that are to be probated and then transfer these assets to the estate. The executor must pay the deceased’s bills and taxes out of funds in the deceased’s estate. The executor must also collect all debts owed to the estate. If necessary, the executor must invest and manage estate assets during the course of the probate process, which could take months or even a year or more. Finally, the executor must distribute the assets to the deceased’s heirs per the terms of the will, thus ending the probate process.
As this shows, the probate process can be complicated and lengthy, and many people do not have experience serving as the executor of an estate. Fortunately, you do not have to go through the probate process alone. Help is available to executors who are facing the prospect of probating an estate and need guidance throughout the process.