Probate and Administration
When someone dies, the assets that person had are termed their estate. If the deceased did not have a Will, then New York State has a law setting forth who receives the deceased’s assets, which is called the law of intestate succession. Each state has such a law, and they are all different. The assets do not automatically go to New York State if you do not have a Will, as long as you were survived by some close relatives, but the assets probably do not go to the persons you want or in the percentages you want. Thus, it is always best to have a Will prepared by an experienced attorney, and have all your questions answered, to be certain that those you want to inherit from you, actually do.
Probate of Will
If the deceased had a Will, then the Last Will and Testament must be probated in Surrogate’s Court. This means that the original Will with the deceased’s ink signature and the ink signature of the witnesses must be given to Surrogate’s Court, and the next-of-kin must be notified and either consent to the Will being probated, or given an opportunity to object to the Will being probated. When the Surrogate’s Court admits the Will to probate, the Court’s decree in essence requires that the terms of the Will must be followed.
Administration of Estate
The person named in the Will, and appointed by decree of Surrogate’s Court, is called the Executor or fiduciary. An Executor or fiduciary handles the affairs of the deceased person’s estate, and pays the deceased’s bills, funeral bill and other expenses of settling the estate, liquidates the assets of the deceased, pays any income or estate taxes, and then distributes the remainder to the persons as stated in the Will.
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