New York Trusts and Estates Lawyer

Administering an estate involves collecting the assets, paying the bills and taxes, and distributing the assets to the people entitled to receive them under the will. Many people think estate planning is a process that only takes place late in life, but the truth is that it is never too early to start. With the help of an experienced New York trusts and estates lawyer, you can make well-informed decisions about your family and finances and put your plans into effect quickly and efficiently.

Our distinguished trusts and estates attorneys combine decades of experience with compassion and a client-centered approach to business, making this sometimes difficult process easier on everyone involved. New York trusts and estates lawyers have dedicated their entire careers to helping clients with their estate planning, giving them peace of mind, knowing that their families will be properly taken care of after they pass. Our skilled attorneys have decades of experience dealing with highly complex matters, such as commercial transactions, trusts, estates, and real estate dealings.

New York Estate Proceedings

When it comes time to plan an estate, attorneys can help assess their client’s holdings and property and ensure that all non-liquid assets are properly valued and accounted for. They can help clients create essential legal documents, including wills, trusts, and powers of attorney.

Like every state, New York has its own statutory and procedural nuances regarding trusts and estates. In this respect, it is important not to simply work with any New York trusts and estates attorney, but to secure legal counsel who can apply years of experience to help an individual make the most of their trust formation or estate planning process.

In addition to these two primary areas of practice, New York trusts and estates lawyers also help clients with issues that involve:

  • Asset Protection
  • Business Succession
  • Joint Accounts
  • Power of Attorney
  • Elder Law
  • Estate Planning
  • Understanding Tax Implications

Determining an Estate Administrator

When a person writes their will with a New York trusts and estates lawyer, they have the absolute right to select anybody they want as their estate administrator. In New York, a person has to be either a resident or a citizen of the US. A person cannot choose a person who is not a US citizen and lives outside of New York to be their executor unless they serve with someone who does qualify.

Trustworthiness, diligence, and common sense are qualities to look for in an estate administrator. A person needs to be able to trust their administrator to execute their estate in accordance with their wishes. Managing an estate can be a complicated process, so a good candidate for an estate administrator is someone who is organized and is up to the task of consulting with an attorney, notifying creditors and beneficiaries, and providing all of the necessary documentation to the court.

If the executor does not do what they are supposed to do, there could be applications to the court to compel them. When finishing an estate, people are entitled to an accounting of all the receipts and disbursements of the estate. If the executor or administrator does not want to provide it, a person can petition the court to compel the executor or administrator to do so.

Summary of Trusts and Estates in New York

The laws regarding trusts and estates in New York are outlined in the New York EPTL – Estates, Powers & Trusts Law. A New York trusts and estates lawyer can help an individual put a plan in place for the disposition of their assets and property, with the goal of maximizing the value of the estate and reducing or eliminating taxes and expenses wherever possible.

Wills and Power of Attorney

Creating a will is a key step in estate planning, which ensures assets and property are left to the chosen individuals. New York has a variety of statutory requirements for a will to be valid, so it is imperative that a will is properly drafted and executed. A New York trusts and estates lawyer can help with estate planning that involves executing powers of attorney, which allow another person (an agent) to act on the individual’s behalf. Such agreements are enforceable in New York and should be drafted and executed accurately and clearly with the help of a trusts and estates attorney in order to avoid any potential negative repercussions.

Titling Local Assets

In some circumstances, individuals can reduce tax consequences by gifting assets during life, which can be a useful estate planning tool. Some assets can pass outside of probate, which in most cases is preferable as probate involves a court process that can be time-consuming and costly.

For real property to pass outside of probate, it must be co-owned with another person in a joint tenancy or co-owned with a spouse in a tenancy by the entirety. Trust assets pass outside of probate, so creating a trust is a viable option for many while planning their estates.

Unclaimed property is property unclaimed by a rightful owner, or for whom correct contact information is not available. If no one comes forward to claim the property, it will be held in an account. This is called an escheat of the state.

Speaking with an Attorney

Planning your estate can be a complicated and intimidating process. There are many factors to consider and often there are many different options available, each with different benefits. New York trusts and estates lawyers can help you take on some of that burden. They will ensure that you are apprised of all the options available to you. They can assist you in understanding fully each step of the process and help you to draft a will or any other legal instruments you may need for your estate plan.

A New York estate lawyer will understand the law and the procedures for administering an estate. They know what is permissible and what is not permissible to the Court, and they will remind the executor or administrator of any deadlines that apply to the administration of the estate. They can also help the executor resolve contested claims.

When a loved one passes away in New York owning assets, their estate often must pass through the court-supervised probate process. An experienced attorney may be able to ease the burden on your family during this time of mourning by assisting you with the legal matters that arise following the death of a loved one. Contact a New York probate lawyer today to help in the filing process.

Services a Probate Attorney Provides

Skilled New York probate attorneys offer a wide variety of services including:

  • Filing a petition with the appropriate court
  • Providing notice to heirs
  • Providing payment to creditors of the estate
  • Petitioning to appoint Executors or Administrators
  • Inventory and appraisal of estate assets
  • Calculation and payment of any estate taxes owed
  • Filing income or estate tax returns
  • Coordinating distribution of assets to rightful heirs

Filing Probate

A probate is initiated when the Executor of the estate files a petition along with the decedent’s original will, death certificate and applicable filing fee with the New York Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent lived.

After the petition, if filed, the Surrogate’s Court will make a determination regarding the validity of the decedent’s will. In New York, a will is generally valid if it was signed by a competent person in the presence of two independent witnesses. A will nominates an Executor and also states who the decedent wishes to inherit their estate.

After a will is allowed, the court will issue Letters of Testamentary giving the Executor legal authority to act on the estate’s behalf and carry out the terms set forth in the will.

If a person dies intestate, meaning they died without a will, paperwork will need to be filed with the court for an administrative proceeding. The decedent’s assets will then be distributed according to New York laws of intestacy. This usually means that someone’s assets will be distributed to their spouse or closest living relatives. An Administrator, as opposed to an Executor, will be appointed as the fiduciary for an estate of a person who dies intestate.


A case will only need to be opened if a person dies owning more than $30,000 in their sole name. If a person dies with or without a will having less than $30,000, a voluntary administration proceeding may be filed instead.

If a decedent’s assets were jointly owned and there is a surviving joint owner or if their assets are owned in a trust, probate can usually be avoided. The assets will pass by operation of law to the surviving joint owner or trust beneficiaries. Assets with designated beneficiaries such as retirement accounts of life insurance policies will also pass outside of probate.

Estate Litigation

Once a probate proceeding has started, a person may file an objection. Objections are often filed to contest the validity of a decedent’s will or the appointment of a particular Executor. Contested probate matters may develop into lengthy trails. If there are disagreements that arise during the course of a probate proceeding in someone’s family, New York probate attorneys could represent them and work to resolve these disagreements.


The New York probate process typically takes a month to conclude. The appointed Executor or Administrator is in charge of collecting and distributing the decedent’s assets in accordance with the decedent’s will or the New York laws of intestacy. The complexity of a decedent’s estate will impact how long it takes to fully administer his or her estate.

Talk to a New York Probate Attorney Today

Coping with the death of a loved one is never easy. By allowing an experienced attorney to help you with your case, you can alleviate the stress of having to deal with a probate case by yourself. An experienced attorney may also be able to assist you with valuable information regarding the best course of action in a probate case. Contact New York probate lawyers today.