Putnam County Probate Lawyer
Probate is the process by which a judge authenticates a will. If the will is not authentic, then a judge will not admit it into court. However, once a judge admits a will, then the estate’s executor can begin to collect estate assets and pay off creditors. Probate can be a long, complicated process, and many people need an experienced Putnam County probate lawyer in their corner to advise them.
A Timeline of the Probate Process
After death, someone will need to present the deceased’s will and a death certificate to the probate court. Family members will be notified. If there are no challenges to the will, the judge will usually admit the will to probate and name the executor (who should be identified in the will).
In most cases, the probate process goes smoothly. The executor collects assets and safekeeps them. Creditors are notified that the deceased has passed and that they need to submit bills for payment before a deadline. If they miss the deadline, then their claims are forever barred. After waiting the necessary time, the executor pays all legitimate bills before distributing the assets in the estate to beneficiaries.
If all goes well, probate can take less than a year. However, complications can extend the probate process.
A family member might claim the will isn’t authentic, or that it does not reflect the deceased’s true intentions. An heir might challenge a will as fraudulent or procured by undue influence. A will might also be improperly created, which could render it invalid. They can ask the judge not to admit the will to probate.
Will contests can be costly. If the will is invalidated, the estate might be distributed according to a prior will or according to New York’s intestacy rules.
Insufficient Assets or Cash
Some complications arise when the estate does not have enough cash to pay all creditors or to pay the estate’s taxes. For example, an estate might owe $10,000 in taxes but only have $5,000 in cash. In this situation the executor might need to sell assets to raise the necessary funds, which means some beneficiaries might lose their gifts.
Executors owe duties to all beneficiaries to not favor one over the other, and selling estate assets to pay creditors is rife with complications. Many executors benefit from having an experienced lawyer advise them so that they fulfill their duties to all beneficiaries.
An executor might conclude that a creditor claim is not legitimate and refuse to pay. This refusal can often lead to a lawsuit. Executors must defend the estate against creditors, and few executors are prepared to do so on their own. Any litigation can extend the probate period from 6-8 months to well over a year.
Speak to Meyer & Spencer Today
If you have been named executor of an estate, or if a loved one has died and you have questions about probate, please contact us. Our probate lawyers can answer any questions you have or represent you in the probate court.
For more information, please reach out by calling 845-628-009. We serve the entirety of Putnam County, including Mahopac.