Probate FAQ

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Probate FAQ’S

Probate FAQ

What is probate?
Probate is a court process of proving the validity of a will, transferring property and settling the affairs of the deceased’s estate. If there is no will, a similar process known as Administration is used to settle the deceased’s affairs. For example, the loved ones left behind must either file a Probate proceeding (if there is a will) or an Administration proceeding in order to sell a house or real property.

What is the purpose of Probate?

Probate is the legal avenue to establish clear title to, or ownership of, assets. Upon one’s death, before title can pass, all potential heirs and others must be eliminated. This process is known as probate.
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When should probate be started?

Probate should start as soon as possible following the person’s death. There are states such as Nevada that require the Will or process be commenced within 30 days of the death.

Can I be the Executor for my relative’s Estate if I do not live in New York?

Absolutely! As your attorney, we will assist you in preparing the application to the Court and filing it. You will be treated the same as any Executor, whether you are a resident of New York or not. It does not matter. However, you will need an attorney to assist you with the papers, administration of the estate, collection of the assets and the distribution.
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How do I get started?

Contact our office first for a free consultation. We will discuss with you the process and what is needed. We will help you collect the assets and at the appropriate time, help you make the proper distribution among the heirs of the estate and a final accounting that is filed with the Court. We will prepare the tax returns for the estate, obtain a tax identification number for the estate and help you sell any real estate, stock or other assets of the estate.
Since many of our clients live out of state and not residents of New York, we often communicate with them via e-mail and telephone and they have little to do. It can be an easy process. It’s not easy after the loss of a loved one, but the probate or administration process does not have to be the same. Let us help you with the process and make your life a little more stress – free.

How do I pay my Lawyer for this?

This is an expense that is usually paid through the estate. You may choose an hourly rate, percentage or other arrangement such as deferred payment which is determined on a case by case basis. In the past, we have been able to offer contingency retainers if the estate meets certain criteria. Remember, as the executor you are entitled to a commission fee for the time you spend. That is based on a percentage set forth in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Law. Our clients have received commissions as high as $55,000.00 for serving as an executor.
Once the fee arrangement is agreed upon with the attorney, then the attorney will look at the estate’s assets to determine the filing fees.
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Can I be the Executor, Administrator or the Trustee for the estate even if I cannot afford the legal fees?

If you do not have the money to pay the attorney in the beginning and you meet certain criteria, the legal fee can be paid at the end, out of the estate’s assets.

How long does the Probate or Administration process normally take?

In a routine probate proceeding, you can expect it to take as little as four (4) weeks. However, probate and estate administration often takes much longer if complications arise.

What do I do if my loved one died without a will?

We can help you. We will prepare the necessary forms for an administration proceeding. A relative, such as yourself, would be appointed as the administrator of the estate. Then, New York State law would determine, based upon the family relation, who would inherit the estate and what portion thereof. We can explain this process further to you during an initial consultation.

Is the executor liable for the estate personally?

No. Not unless you wrongfully take the estate’s money,steal, and do not make the distribution according to the will or New York State  Law.

New York, Contested Will Attorney

Contact a Long Island probate and estate attorney that keeps your best interests in mind throughout the entirety of your matter. We offer a free in-home consultation and senior citizen discounts on our services. Let us help you assess your legal situation today. Deferred retainers available.

Contact the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston

Contact us today or call our office at 631-425-7299 or 24/7 at 855-479-4700 to set up a free initial consultation. Our offices are located in Huntington.

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Out-of-State-Executor-Attorney

We represent clients nationwide, if you are a fiduciary (executor, administrator, or trustee) an heir or beneficiary of a New York estate. If the decedent died in New York or has assets in New York State, we can help you. If you are chosen to represent the estate or if you are receiving an inheritance from a New York estate, contact our law firm today.


There are Two Types of New York Estates

  1. The Decedent resided in NY at the time of death and their domicile is New York at the time of death; or
  2. There are assets located in NY, at the time of death, and an ancillary proceeding is needed. The Decedent may have died elsewhere.

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