Walsh & Walsh, LLP


42 Long Alley, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 | (518) 583-0171

Probate in New York

Many people have the perception that probating a Will or administering an Estate in New York is both lengthy and expensive. Everything is relative, of course. In fact, New York State probate and formal estate administration are not as difficult as many other states.

Nonetheless, you can take several actions to eliminate the need to probate a Will or to formally administer an estate. Any asset that two or more people own on the date one of them dies, and certain assets with a named beneficiary(ies), will not pass through probate.

For example, today, many individuals have significant assets in pension and retirement funds. To the extent these assets have one or more named beneficiaries who survive them, these assets do not pass through probate.

Other assets, such as all real and personal property, will not pass through probate if they are held in two or more names, jointly with right of survivorship. Many couples routinely hold title to their homes and bank accounts this way. Of course, this is effective only for the first estate.

Another tool for avoiding probate is a living trust. A living trust is also useful for consolidating and managing assets. Perhaps the simplest way of all is to just give it away!

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These are just some of the simpler and more common ways to avoid probate. Which one, or combination of them, will work best for you depends on the particular facts of your situation, and on the personal preferences of the individuals.

If you find it necessary to probate a Will or administer an estate in New York where there is no real property and the personal property is worth less than $30,000, you can commence a small estate administration with the nominal filing fee of $1.00.

If the estate involves personal property in excess of $30,000 and/or contains real property, the minimum filing fee is $45.00 and the maximum filing fee is $1,250.00, depending on the size of the estate. All probate proceedings and estate administration proceedings, once commenced, usually take at least a year to complete. Longer periods are often necessary depending on the assets and the people involved.

Legal fees in these matters vary widely. Some firms bill probate and estate administration based on a percentage of the assets to be probated. Our firm bills hourly. Therefore, you can help control the legal fees paid to our firm by following the guidelines in the companion article on this web site titled “Manage Your Legal Fees and Improve Your Outcome”.

In short, probate and estate administration proceedings in New York are not as difficult as people are led to believe. Nonetheless, they take patience, perseverance and cooperation among everyone involved to assure proper and timely completion of the estate, with minimal difficulty and discord.

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