The death of a loved one is an especially traumatic event. Lives can be upended and surviving family members and friends can be left feeling lost and confused about how to carry on. This is especially true when the death occurs suddenly or under tragic circumstances. Unfortunately, the law does not provide grief-stricken family and friends much time to mourn their loss before important work must be done. This important work involves admitting the deceased’s estate to probate and then administering that estate.
In New York and elsewhere, an individual who dies with a will or similar document in place is said to die testate. If a person does not have such a document in place, the person dies intestate.
- Dying Testate: If the deceased left a will, the first step of administering the estate involves probating the will, or proving the will’s validity. Usually this involves simply introducing the will into the appropriate court. Once the will has been probated, the executor or administrator named in the will is tasked with carrying out the wishes of the deceased as expressed in the will, settling any lawful debts the deceased must pay, and providing an accounting or report to the court showing that the deceased’s assets were dispersed according to the terms of the will.
- Dying Intestate: If there is no will, the assets of the individual are brought under the supervision of the court by an interested party. The court will appoint an administrator to oversee the distribution of the person’s assets. Florida law provides direction and guidance as to how assets are to be distributed if there is no will.
This simple explanation of how a person’s estate is administered and his or her assets are distributed is overly simple. There can be any number of issues that arise that can complicate even a minor estate:
- A fight among the heirs regarding the validity of the will;
- Trusts that take certain property out of the probate process;
- Assets which do not go through probate.
Contact Legal Professionals
Our team at Ettinger Law Firm help you administer the estate of your loved one. Our probate administration attorneys are thoroughly familiar with New York’s probate laws and can help guide you through the process. This results in less anxiety for you during a time when you want as little stress as possible.