When a person dies there is a lot of concern about the actions to be taken regarding the handling of the individual’s estate. While this article talks about 5 important steps or considerations in truth, depending upon the nature of the estate, there can be many more.
To begin with, there may be uncertainty regarding the manner in which the decedent’s body is to be disposed of and who should be the person in charge of this matter. If the decedent left instructions or a pre-paid funeral account, this matter may be easily resolved. Unfortunately, in some cases there are no precise funeral or burial instructions and there may be competing family members or friends who want to control the final rites and burial decisions. This can lead to litigation if not resolved.
Another consideration is whether or not the decedent left a Last Will and Testament. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles concerning this subject. If the decedent left a Last Will, the original should be located so that it can be filed with the Surrogate’s Court and a Probate Proceeding can be started. If there is no Will and the decedent died intestate, then an administration proceeding needs to be filed to have Letters of Administration issued to the Estate Administrator. When a Will is probated, Letters Testamentary are issued to the Executor.
The next consideration is to try and determine what assets the decedent owned and the manner in which they were held. These assets can include bank accounts, retirement funds, stock holdings, business interests and real estate. Also, it should be determined if these assets had co-owners, or joint owners or designated beneficiaries.
Consideration needs to be given to a person’s debts and financial obligations. A search should be conducted to see if the decedent had outstanding credit card bills or a mortgage or other current liabilities. This is important since you want to avoid defaults that may be a negative impact on the estate or cause a loss of assets.
In connection with filing a Probate or Administration proceeding with the Surrogate’s Court, a potential fiduciary needs to determine the decedent’s next of kin or distributees. These are the individuals who are required to receive notice by the Court usually in the form of a Citation regarding the Estate Proceedings and must be identified in the Court papers. Estate litigation may arise in any Surrogate’s Court case when next of kin either file a Will Contest or object to the person who is seeking to be appointed as Administrator or Executor.
As can be seen, estate settlement in New York can be a complicated matter. I have represented persons in estate cases for over 35 years in New York City estates and the other Counties. Call me now for a free review of your estate case. We offer reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Manhattan, Queens County and Brooklyn. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.