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What typically happens during the probate process?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Probate |

Losing a loved one can create a challenging time, both emotionally and with trying to navigate all of the legal matters suddenly at hand. In many cases, these issues will involve the formal steps needed to settle the deceased individual’s estate using the probate process.  While thoughts of probate and estate administration may seem overwhelming to some New York residents, having a general understanding of what takes place during this process can help ease a lot of potential stress and confusion.

Situations where the deceased has a will

Those who pass away after having formally created a will are known as testators. In most of these instances, an executor is designated within the will to handle many of the deceased’s affairs. The executor is responsible for initiating the probate process within the required time frame. From there, the probate court will authorize the executor to handle many critical matters, including the following:

  • Estimating the value of the testator’s estate
  • Locating and controlling all of the deceased’s assets
  • Paying off the testator’s outstanding tax and debt liabilities
  • Filing the deceased’s last income tax return

Once the executor has completed all of his or her duties, the probate court can officially approve the distribution of the remaining assets within the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries.

Situations where no will exists

In cases where the deceased individual passed away without a will — often referred to as having died interstate — an administrator is typically designated by the probate court to take care of the estate-related matters. Additionally, the administrator is responsible for finding the rightful heirs to the deceased’s estate. After the completion of the administrator’s duties, the probate court will distribute the estate’s assets in a manner it deems most appropriate.

As seen above, there are many complexities involved with most probate-related matters. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can answer questions and concerns while guiding a client through every step of the probate process. Having professional assistance and support during this time can help minimize the odds of issues arising and allow for a much smoother transition into the future.