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One of the reasons for a person to engage in Estate Planning and to prepare a Last Will is to provide a nomination in the Will for Executors and Trustees. When a person dies intestate (no Will) the estate laws designate the persons entitled to act as administrator. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles regarding estate planning and estate administration.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1001 entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administration” provides the list of individuals (i.e., spouses, children) who have the priority to be appointed as the estate fiduciary.  In many instances, the individuals who have the statutory right to be appointed administrator may not have been the choice the decedent would have made. Continue reading

Probating a Will in New York is usually not a contentious process. The original Will is filed with the Court and typically the person named in the Will as the Executor prepares and files a Probate Petition. When a Will is admitted to probate, the Court issues Letters Testamentary to the petitioner. This document provides the executor with the authority to administer the decedent’s estate.

As discussed in prior posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog, all of the decedent’s next of kin (“distributees”) must be given notice of the probate proceeding. Each distributee has a right to object to the Will. The procedures involved with Will Objections necessitate that all of the parties engage in a discovery process so that the Court can be presented with facts regarding the validity of the Will.
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The executor or administrator of a New York estate is required to consider many factors when administering an estate. One of the items that the fiduciary needs to review is whether estate taxes need to be paid.

In the year 2017 the Federal Estate tax exemption is $5,490,000. New York State also imposes an estate tax and the 2017 exemption after April 1, 2017 is $5,250,000. While many estates appear not to be subject to the tax, it is necessary that all of the decedent’s assets be properly valued in order to avoid a possible claim by the taxing authorities that a tax or additional tax must be paid. The estate tax must be paid and a return filed within 9 months after the death of the decedent. While an extension to file the return can be obtained for 6 months, any non-payment or underpayment of the tax can result in the imposition of substantial interest and penalty charges. It is not unusual for the Internal Revenue Service or local tax authority to require an audit and to claim that estate assets have been undervalued. This is especially true with business interests and other hard to value assets such as artwork. Continue reading

In most instances the filing of a Last Will for probate is a straight forward process.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles regarding the probate of a Will. The typical persons who petition the Court in these proceedings are close relatives such as a spouse or children.  Moreover, it is rather common that the Will beneficiaries are the same close relatives and that all of these individuals receive benefits under the Will provisions.

For example, a familiar scenario is a Last Will in which the decedent leaves his entire estate to his spouse if the spouse is living and if the spouse is not alive, then equally to his children or descendants.  Continue reading

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

When a person dies leaving a Last Will and Testament the Will is typically filed with the Court in the probate process.   An essential provision in a Will is naming the persons to be appointed as Executor.  The Executor is the person who is responsible for estate settlement such as the collection of assets, the payment of estate debts and expenses and distributing the net estate to the Will beneficiaries.

The provisions of a Will should not only name the Executor, the Will should designate a substitute or successor Executor in the event the primary person nominated cannot act as the fiduciary. It is not uncommon that the primary named Executor needs to be replaced. This can result from a number of reasons such as the primary fiduciary is deceased or ill or refuses to accept the appointment. When the first named Executor does not act as the fiduciary, the Court will appoint the named substitute. Continue reading

When a decedent dies his estate is subject to the process of either probate or intestate administration. It is not uncommon that in either situation there may be many issues that require estate litigation in the Surrogate’s Court. These controversies can take many forms such as Will Contests, Kinship Hearings and Contested Accountings.

Estate lawyers are familiar with the Court procedures that are involved with such proceedings.  One of the commons aspects of estate disputes is that parties are entitled to discover information from the opposing party and others concerning the issues involved in the case.   Continue reading

Kinship disputes are very common in New York estate cases. When a person dies his estate typically can be settled in one of two ways. If the decedent left a Last Will, the Will is offered for probate in the Surrogate’s Court.

In the event the decedent dies intestate (without a Will) then a petition for Letters of Administration is presented to the Court. An Executor or Administrator is appointed depending upon the type of Court proceeding. Continue reading

Probate of a Will in New York is primarily controlled by the various estate laws. These statutes are part of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) and the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL).   The probate process has been examined in many of the articles appearing in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog. When a person dies and leaves a Last Will, a petition for the probate of the Will is filed in the Surrogate’s Court. The petition contains information regarding the decedent, his address, the name of the petitioner, the date of the Will, the names of the attesting witnesses to the Will, the approximate value of the estate and the names and addresses of the persons interested in the estate.

The petition is filed with the Court along with an original death certificate, the original Will and other mandated documents. Kinship affidavits may also be required. Continue reading

There are many different types of ownership interests that a decedent may have. Prior to death, a person may have acquired real estate in the form of a single family home. Similarly an individual may have been the owner of a cooperative apartment or a condominium unit. Each of these property types are assets that a decedent’s estate may need to administer as part of estate settlement.

It is very common though, especially with New York City Estates, that a decedent was a tenant pursuant to a lease in a residential apartment at the time of death. In these situations, the decedent’s family, or executor or administrator must understand various rules that effect the estate’s interest in the rental apartment. Continue reading

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