Probate FAQ

Questions About Probating a Long Island Estate

Whether you were named an executor in a will or if your loved one recently died, if you've never had to deal with probate proceedings before, you're probably very unfamiliar with the process. At the Law Offices of Steven M. Adler, PLLC, we have over 25 years of experience assisting executors and administrators through the probate process. We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about probate which you can find below. We encourage you to continue reading and for further information, please don't hesitate to contact our office directly.

What is probate?
Probate is the court-monitored process whereby a will is proved to the satisfaction of the Surrogate Judge. From there, an executor will be appointed to collect and distribute the estate's assets to the creditors and the beneficiaries named in the will.

What is a will?
A will is a written legal document where someone explains what he or she wants done with their property upon their death. A valid will has the power to transfer interest in personal property such as bank accounts, stocks and furniture to the named beneficiaries. It can also provide protection for adult disabled children and to minor grandchildren through trusts.

What happens when someone dies without a will?
When someone dies without a will it is referred to as dying "intestate." Since the deceased left no directions about the disposition of assets, New York law provides for how those assets will be distributed among the surviving family members.

What is administration?
When someone dies without a will, instead of the process being referred to as probate, it is called administration. With administration the court appoints an "administrator" to manage the estate. Although executors and administrators have different titles, their functions are nearly identical.

I was named the executor of a will, how do I start probate?
You will need to bring the original will and a certified copy of the death certificate with the probate petition and other supporting documents to the Surrogate's Court in the county where the decedent lived prior to his or her death. A filing fee will apply which will be determined by the size of the estate.

Where do I obtain a copy of the death certificate?
You can usually obtain copies from the funeral director. You may also obtain them from the Vital Statistics/Death Records Department in the municipality where the person died.

As a beneficiary, will I receive notice of the probate proceedings?
Under New York State law, the fiduciary (executor) has the duty to comply with strict requirements for notifying persons who have a legal interest in the estate and any matters which affect those interests. The executor simply cannot keep you in the dark about what is happening, you must be informed throughout the process.

How long does probate take?
As early as 7 months after the fiduciary appointment, the executor and their attorney can file a FORM 207.42 in order to close the estate, or by the ends of 2 years of the appointment. Releases from all beneficiaries of the estate are executed at this time as well, if they were not already filed. This means that you can reasonably expect probate to take from 7 months to 2 years. When there is real estate to sell or will contests, it can take up to a year or longer since these procedures can extend probate.

Contact a Long Island Probate Attorney Today!

If you are an executor or an administrator, you should not handle probate proceedings without a qualified professional guiding you through the process. With over 25 years of experience serving the residents of Long Island with their probate proceedings, we can guide through the process while protecting your best interests. Contact a Long Island probate lawyer from our firm today at (516) 740-1184 to schedule an appointment!

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