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.