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Probate is the process of proving that a Will is valid. It is the first step in administering an estate. People named in the Will are notified, as are people who would inherit if the decedent did not have a Will. In most cases, everyone agrees to move forward and the estate administration process can begin.

Once a Will is proven to be valid, the Surrogate’s Court issues authority in the form of letters testamentary. These allow the nominated Executor to collect a decedent’s assets, pay creditors, account for their actions from start to finish, and ultimately distribute assets.

Administering a Will in Surrogate’s Court provides opportunities to engage in tax planning, fund trusts, and ensure that your final wishes are overseen by State authority.

However, the process can occasionally invite litigation, particularly among conflicting family members. Someone could allege that the Will was not valid for a variety of reasons, could allege that the Executor is not fit to act, or could allege that the Executor has not properly accounted for estate assets.

During these unfortunate situations, we have guided families through the estate litigation process to successfully defend against Will contests or objections to accountings.

Families concerned with this process and the likelihood of conflict would do well to consider testamentary substitutes, such as drafting trusts and coordinating their estate plan with beneficiary designations under the supervision of their attorney and financial advisor.


Is probate required for registered will?
Probate is the process of proving that a Will was validly executed. Until a Will is probated, the Courts will not issue letters testamentary which will permit someone to collect and sell the decedent’s assets.

How do you execute a will without probate?
A Will is not valid until it is probated.

What things have to go through probate?
Probate is the process of proving a Will is valid. Once the Will is proven valid, the Executor receives letters testamentary which permit him or her to collect any assets in the decedent’s name.

How do you avoid probate?
Any assets that pass by joint ownership or beneficiary designation can pass automatically to the joint owner or beneficiary.

Are bank accounts subject to probate?
Bank accounts owned by an individual must be collected by an Executor or Administrator.

What if no one opens probate?
Assets in the decedent’s name will ultimately pass to New York State Unclaimed Funds.

Why do you need probate?
Probate is the process of proving a Will is valid. People execute a Will to make sure their wishes are followed, and this process is designed to help that happen. It also permits the transfer of the decedent’s real estate with a clear title to the new purchaser.

How to probate a will without a lawyer?
You can attempt to prove a Will is valid without a lawyer, but this is a complex and technical process and you are likely to need a lawyer at some point. Often, lawyers will charge more to fix your mistakes, so it is usually more efficient to hire a lawyer from the start to ensure things go smoothly. In addition, many courts are requiring the use of electronic filing, which non-lawyers typically do not have access to.

How to probate a will?
The Will must be submitted to the Court pursuant to the rules of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, with proper notice and pleadings to all necessary parties.

Does a will have to be probated?
Probate is the only way to prove a Will is valid and appoint an Executor, who can then liquidate and transfer the decedent’s assets.

What is probate of a will?
Probate is the process of proving a Will was validly executed.

How long does it take to probate a will?
Probating a Will (proving that it was validly executed) can take a matter of days, assuming everyone involved agrees. Disputes can prolong this process.

What if the executor does not probate the will?
Then the Will is not considered valid, no Executor will be appointed, and none of the decedent’s assets can be sold or transferred.

Does a will avoid probate?
The entire point of a Will is to have it proven to be valid through the probate process.

How to find a will in probate court?
If a Will was submitted to the Court for probate, it will generally be on file at the Clerk’s office.

How to get a copy of a will before probate?
The testatory can choose to give you a copy of his or her Will when they are alive. You are not entitled to the original Will after death unless you are the nominated Executor, and you are not entitled to notice of Probate of the Will unless you are an interested party as defined under the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act.

How long after probate granted will I get my money?
New York State requires a 7-month period from the date the Will is probated for creditors to submit their claims. Distribution typically occurs after this period.

How much does it cost to probate a will?
Some lawyers will charge a flat fee based on a percentage of the value of the estate. Some lawyers will charge hourly. Some lawyers will charge a flat-fee based on the amount of work that needs to be done regardless of the value of the estate. You should work with a lawyer who has billing practices that reflect your preferences.
Caroline and I thank you for all kindness in the way you and your staff administered my will.

- Alton R.


Richard A. Kroll, Esq. has an active practice in the area of Estate Planning, Trusts, and Probate. He is a member of the...

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Private practice in Rochester, New York with the Kroll Law Firm since 2007, a group practice in Brighton, New York with emphasis on...

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Marcus's practice involves estate planning for all families, including LGBT couples, second marriages, and families who have members with...

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Richard A. Kroll
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