Probate Lawyers in Yonkers, NY

Explaining the Process for Settling Estates and Providing Legal Counsel

To be able to create a comprehensive estate plan that serves your needs, you need to understand what happens to your estate after your death. Every estate in Yonkers must go through probate, but there is a simplified process that can be used for estates under a certain value. The probate process ensures that the estate is valued correctly, that all existing debts are paid, and that the beneficiaries receive their inheritances as outlined in the will or the New York intestate succession laws. Knowing what to expect during probate can help you create a better estate plan or be prepared for your duties as an executor.

Talking with a probate lawyer can help you get a better understanding of how probate works in Westchester County and the state of New York as a whole. It also ensures that you get customized legal advice so you can make decisions accordingly. Get help with your probate questions or issues when you call the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC.

What Does a Probate Attorney Do?

Probate lawyers in Yonkers, NY, help clients navigate the probate process and provide legal counsel to executors, administrators, and sometimes the deceased’s family members. These attorneys often also assist clients with New York estate planning, which means they have an in-depth understanding of estate documents and can help you understand how an estate was set up.

Probate attorneys specifically can help the executor of an estate identify assets, assist with property appraisals, and help prepare and file any necessary legal documents. A probate law firm can also help with complex estates where there may be more than one will or it’s not clear what the estate includes. In some cases, a probate attorney may be named the executor of the estate, in which case they will perform all of those duties, including paying the estate’s debts and distributing assets.

What Are Some Unique Challenges of Probate Law?

Estate administration can be challenging and can involve other legal areas, such as real estate law and business law. It’s best to talk to a New York probate lawyer about your specific situation, but being aware of some of the unique issues that can crop up can help you be prepared.

Any area of the law can be complex, but probate law is particularly challenging because it involves so many aspects, and there can be dozens of people and entities involved. There are beneficiaries, financial institutions, and creditors who all have to be dealt with in accordance with the law.

It’s also common for people to die without a will or estate planning documents, which can make inventorying assets and getting a full understanding of the estate’s debts difficult. Family disputes and emotional stress are often prevalent, and there are challenges related to locating beneficiaries.

Which Estates Qualify for Simplified Probate?

In New York, estates that are valued at less than $50,000 generally don’t have to go through the full probate process. These estates are eligible for simplified probate, also known as voluntary administration or small estate proceeding. However, if the person was the sole owner of any real property, such as land or a house, the estate doesn’t qualify for simplified probate and will need to go through the usual process.

If an estate does qualify, the executor of the estate will be appointed as the voluntary administrator, which includes the same duties. Instead of filing a probate proceeding, the voluntary administrator will file an administration proceeding instead. The process is similar to probate, but it’s much faster, which means the estate can be settled more quickly and the beneficiaries have faster access to the inheritance.

What Happens If Someone Dies Without Having a Will in Place?

If someone dies without a will in place in Yonkers, New York, it can make the probate process much more complicated. Because there is no will to name an executor, an administrator will need to be appointed by the courts. In most cases, this will be a close relative, such as a spouse, child, or sibling. However, it doesn’t have to be a family member. It can be a close friend of the decedent or even a professional, such as an attorney.

Once an administrator is appointed, the probate process is the same until it comes time for the distribution of the assets. Without a will to dictate who gets what, the administrator must fall back on the intestate succession laws. Who the beneficiaries are depends on what surviving relatives the person had, but the assets are generally distributed to the person’s spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings.

How Are Disputes During the Probate Process Handled?

The death of a loved one is an emotionally charged time, and it’s not uncommon for disputes to arise during the probate process. These often involve a beneficiary wanting to challenge the will, disputes involving what assets are or are not part of the estate, or accusations that the executor is not fulfilling their fiduciary duties.

When probate disputes happen, the first step is to generally try to defuse the situation and see if an agreement can be made. This could be informal or involve mediation if necessary. If that doesn’t work, the issue may require intervention by the courts, which is referred to as estate litigation. A probate attorney can help you navigate these situations if and when they arise.

If you’ve been named the executor of an estate and need help fulfilling your duties, the team at the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, can help. We’re here to answer our clients’ questions and provide assistance on all types of probate and elder law cases. Call our office at 914-344-5145 to get started.

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