There have been numerous posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog which describe the basic process to settle an estate. A brief review of these facts is always helpful:
1. First it is essential to determine whether the decedent died leaving a Last Will or without a Will (intestate). The existence or non-existence of a Will determines whether the procedure to be followed in Court involves the probate process or intestate administration.
2. Once the process to be followed is ascertained, an appropriate petition and other papers need to be prepared and filed with the Surrogate’s Court.
3. After all necessary estate papers have been filed with the Surrogate’s Court and the Court has approved the filing, an Executor or Administrator will be appointed. The fiduciary is granted Letters Testamentary in the case of a probate and Letters of Administration when a decedent dies intestate.
4. Once appointed, the Executor or Administrator begins the process of estate settlement by collecting the decedent’s assets and paying the decedent’s debts and obligations along with estate administration expenses.
5. The final stage of the estate is providing a payment of the net estate funds and assets to the beneficiaries. Typically, the fiduciary will prepare an accounting of the assets collected and payments made and provide this accounting statement to the beneficiaries so that they can review the basis for the distribution being made to them. Continue reading