Probate FAQs

Probate—One Dies Having Executed a Valid Last Will and Testament


Q: What is the purpose of the probate procedure?

A: The probate procedure is the court procedure by which a will is proved to be valid or invalid. Creditors of the estate can file claims against the estate and receive payment of those claims. After the administration fees and creditor claims are paid, the assets of the estate are distributed.


Q: Who pays for my attorney fees when I am an Executor?

A: The estate does. 


Q:  Do I get paid for being an executor?

A: Yes, you receive a statutory amount called a commission which is payment for your time and services. Plus, you receive reimbursement for any expenses you have incurred. Even if you are a beneficiary, you receive your inheritance plus additional money as allowed by statute and the will.


Q: Am I liable for the debts of the estate or decedent? 

A: No, you are not.  


Q: What are methods for preserving assets of the probate estate? 

A: There are many ways to preserve probate estate assets by utilizing an attorney and tax advisor to save time and money:

  • Determine whether administration expenses and casualty losses should be reported on the estate tax return or on the estate’s income tax return.
  • Consider whether there are income tax savings opportunities on the decedent’s final return (such as whether a joint return should be filed with the surviving spouse).
  • Consider whether assets should be valued at the date of the decedent’s death or six months later (or, if the assets have been distributed prior to six months after the decedent’s death, the date of the disposition of the assets).

Your attorney and tax adviser can offer more strategies and suggestions specific to your needs.


Q: What is a will contest? 

A: A will contest is a legal action that challenges the validity of a will and/or the terms of the will. A will may be invalid if it was the result of forgery, undue influence, inadequate execution, or other issues. A later will may invalidate an earlier version.  Even if there is a provision in the will that states you cannot contest this will or you will lose your inheritance, you can still contest same and bring discovery etc.


Q: What type of assets are typically non-probate assets? 

A: Non-probate assets can be transferred without oversight by the probate court. Some examples of non-probate assets are proceeds from life insurance policies, an IRA account, a 401(k) account or any other taxed deferred retirement plan account with a named beneficiary.


Q: What role does the executor play in the probate process?

A: The executor is responsible for initiating the probate proceeding, collecting and inventorying assets, collecting debts owed to the estate, distributing assets to the estate, and closing the estate. Because of the numerous details and technical requirements that must be satisfied, attorneys experienced in probate and estate administration are often employed to guide the estate through the probate process. The executor is entitled to compensation for time and expenses spent during the process.


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.



Probate and Estate Attorney Dedicated to Serving Out-of-State Executor, Administrator, Trustee, Heir or Beneficiary Clients

If you live outside of New York are a fiduciary (executor, administrator, or trustee), an heir or a beneficiary of a New York estate, we can help you. We represent clients nationwide. We can guide you and provide all the legal assistance you need to protect your inheritance and the estate.  There is no need for you to travel to New York to serve an estate or maximize your inheritance.  

There Are Two Types of New York Estates

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

Find out more information about out-of-state probate help.

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