Probate, Trusts & Estates Frequently Asked Questions
Answers from a highly qualified attorney in Brooklyn, New York
The law surrounding estates — including wills and trusts, probate and estate administration and estate litigation — is highly complex and often very confusing for families, executors and others involved. In order to help you plan your estate or provide assistance after the death of a loved one, the Law Offices of Peter G. Gray, P.C. is dedicated to providing you with the information you need to make informed decisions in your estate matter. To this end, I am pleased to provide answers to some frequently asked questions about trusts and estates and probate.
- How long does the probate process take in New York?
- How do I submit a will to probate as the executor of my family’s estate?
- Can I avoid probate with a deed transfer?
Trusts & Estates FAQ
- What happens if I die without a will or trust?
- What are the benefits of a trust?
- What can I do if I do not receive anything under the terms of my family member’s will?
Individualized assistance from a Brooklyn estate attorney to obtain peace of mind
Estate and probate matters can be confusing to all the parties involved, from the initial creator of the estate plan to the executor to the final beneficiaries. If you have a question about an estate or probate matter, the Law Offices of Peter G. Gray, P.C. is here to provide straightforward answers and honest advice. For personalized assistance in your estate matter, call me today at 929-367-4333 or contact me online for a free initial consultation and peace of mind.
The length of time probate takes from the initial submission of the will to the final distribution of assets to the beneficiaries depends on many factors, including the complexity of the will, the amount, nature and complexity of the assets and debts, the number of beneficiaries and difficulty of locating them, and whether anyone contests the will.
In order to begin the probate of a will, you need to file the original will and a certified copy of the death certificate of the decedent, along with a probate petition and other supporting documents, with the Surrogate’s Court. You must file your probate petition in the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent had his or her primary residence. There is a filing fee based on the size of the estate. Once you have petitioned for probate, the process begins, which includes:
- Proving the validity of the will
- Identifying the property distributed in the will
- Appraising the property
- Paying debts and taxes from the estate
- Distributing property according to the terms of the will
- Transferring title and ownership of assets to the proper beneficiaries
Probate is often a difficult process for executors, especially when you are not experienced in estate law. As an experienced probate attorney, I guide you through each step of the probate process to help ensure everything goes smoothly.
In certain states, you can use a deed like a will to transfer property such as your home or other real estate to a beneficiary after your death to avoid probate. These deeds are called Transfer on Death (TOD) deeds. However, Transfer on Death deeds are not permissible in New York. Instead you must deed your property directly to the beneficiary, or to a trust to be held for your beneficiary, during your lifetime.
Trusts & Estates FAQ
If you or a loved one dies without a valid will or trust, your property is distributed during probate according to New York’s law of intestate succession by an executor who is appointed by the Surrogate’s Court. This means that your property passes to your heirs at law regardless of your wishes and how you want your assets distributed.
There are many different types of trusts and many benefits depending on what type of trust you choose. In general, trusts have many advantages, including avoiding probate, which can be a lengthy process, avoiding or reducing certain taxes and avoiding certain claims by creditors. In the case of Special Needs Trusts, you may be able to provide benefits to a physically or mentally disabled beneficiary without causing him or her to lose government benefits. To learn more about the benefits of specific trusts and how a trust may suit your needs, it is important to speak to a qualified attorney.
Heirs at law, including spouses, children, parents and other family members, have standing to contest a will if they are left out of the decedent’s will and they believe the will does not mirror the decedent’s wishes based on specified grounds. If you are a surviving spouse, you may file a Right of Election entitling you to a share of your deceased spouse’s estate. To learn more about contesting a will, please see my information on will contests and estate litigation.