Opening an Estate in New York

Once the will is admitted to probate, the estate is opened. The appointed executor will open bank accounts, and will start collecting the assets, either selling or keeping the securities, and disposing of or keeping the real estate. If the deceased person is intestate and does not have a will, the court will appoint an administrator to start the process.

An experienced attorney can guide and advise you when it comes to opening an estate in New York. The laws and the jurisdiction are complex. Therefore, retaining the services of a knowledgeable lawyer will prove to be valuable as you navigate the process.

Initial Filing

The initial filing is the probate petition, which will include a copy of the will. The executor must present the will along with affidavits of the witnesses. If the court is satisfied with the filing, they will issue a decree stating that the will is, in fact, the will of the deceased person.

If there is no will, the representative for the deceased files a petition asking that a relative or some other person be appointed to be the administrator of the estate. The administrator is the equivalent of an executor, except that there is no will and the assets are disposed of in accordance with the statute as to who receives them.

Size of the Estate

Larger estates require more tax considerations, which can keep the estate open much longer. The executor must take steps to ensure that all of the assets are disposed of properly, in accordance with New York state and federal statute.

When executing a large estate, a person has a lot more work to do. Estates involving lots of assets can be complicated to execute, and the beneficiaries may have estate and other taxes to pay. A knowledgeable attorney can help ensure that everything is done according to statute, and all requisite taxes are paid.

Important Notices

There are a number of different notices that must be filed, depending on the circumstances of the estate. These include the notice of appointment, notice to creditors, and notice to unknown heirs.

Notice of Appointment

A notice of appointment is used in administration when a person dies without a will. The court will notify people that someone has been appointed as an administrator of the estate.

Notice to Creditors

A notice to creditors is often published in a local newspaper. It notifies potential creditors of the person’s passing, provides contact information for the executor, and informs them of their right to raise claims against the estate.

Notice to Unknown Heirs

If there are unknown heirs, a person may have to publish a notice saying that person has died and they’re looking for unknown heirs. The executor may have hire a genealogist to find them, and provide affidavits from people that there are or are not unknown heirs.

How an Attorney Can Help

In New York, filing the original copy of the last will and testament is not required. It is often kept in the lawyer’s office, or the person keeps it in their home or safe deposit box. There should never be more than one original of a will. The person appointed as executor should petition for probate. If that person doesn’t do it, or can’t do it, a creditor can do it as well.

All of this is much more manageable with the help of an experienced attorney who acts as an advisor and objective third party as you and your loved ones navigate the complex process of opening an estate in New York.