Probate sounds like a big scary word and often times can intimidate people. Probate is simply the legal process of distributing assets according to the Last Will & Testament of the Testator (person who created the will). The person that has this job is the executor of the estate listed in the Will. The executor has the responsibility of petitioning (asking the court) for authority to follow the terms listed in the Testator’s will. When a person passes away with a Will, the Will needs to be proven to the Surrogates Court of New York that the will is valid. The Probate of a will in Surrogates court is jurisdictional and the assistance of a qualified estate attorney is extremely valuable.
There are three phases to the probate process. The first phase is to get the person listed as executor in the Will appointed legally as executor. The second step is to marshal assets and pay debts of the testator. The third and final step is distribution according to the Will and closing of the estate. In the coming weeks we will discuss each step in further detail.