The death of a loved one can lead to various complications for the heirs and beneficiaries left behind. If you recently lost someone, you understand how difficult it is to navigate the legal and financial steps you will have to take in order to close the estate of the deceased. One of these requirements is probate, which is the legal process of validating a will, settling affairs and eventually closing the estate.
The probate process is overseen by Surrogate’s Court, and it is facilitated by the executor. This individual will bear the responsibility of overseeing the probate process, which can be an immense undertaking that may take months or even years to complete. Due to the complex nature of probate, it is critical for the executor and other interested parties to understand what this process requires in order to avoid complications, additional stress and extra costs.
Steps in the probate process
Probate authenticates a person’s will, but it also settles remaining financial obligations associated with the estate and eventually distributes estate assets to designated heirs. Whether you are the executor of an estate, or you are an interested party, knowing what to expect from probate is essential. This process typically follows these steps:
- Location of the will and filing it with the appropriate probate court;
- Location of the decedent’s assets, valuation of assets and protection of estate assets;
- Identification of creditors and notification of the death;
- Payment of any remaining debts associated with the estate;
- Preparation and filing of remaining tax returns;
- Distribution of estate assets according to state laws or the terms of the will.
There are various issues that could complicate the process of settling an estate. If there are multiple wills, disputes between heirs, mistakes in estate planning documents and other issues, it can lengthen the probate process and add additional steps that will be required in order to eventually close the estate.
Seek to protect your interests
Whether you are creating an estate plan, appointed as an executor of a New York estate or simply an interested party in an estate, you will benefit from the assistance of an experienced professional. There are legal and financial interests at stake, and it is helpful to have an understanding of your legal options and rights during probate.