This is a common question asked by clients. “Probate” is the process by which the court, which in New York State is called the Surrogate’s Court, determines whether or not a document is a valid Last Will and Testament of a deceased person. If the Surrogate’s Court determines that the document submitted is a valid will, the court will issue a document called “Letters Testamentary” officially appointing the person nominated as Executor in the will. The Executor can then collect assets of the decedent, pay bills and distribute assets to the will’s beneficiaries.
Usually probate is a fairly straight forward procedure. Upon a person’s death, the will, a death certificate, the probate petition and related affidavits and consents are filed with the Surrogate’s Court. If the court determines the will has been properly executed, necessary consents have been obtained and the petition has been properly completed, the will will be admitted to probate and Letters Testamentary will be issued, usually, within one month.
What then can cause complications and delay? That’s the subject of my next post, so stay tuned…..