Suffolk County Probate & Estate Administration Attorney
After the death of a family member, the probate process can seem daunting without appropriate legal guidance. The firm of George E Patsis PLLC, steers clients through the probate or administration process with both skill and sensitivity to the recent loss of a loved one.
After a client’s death, we help in the resolution of the decedent’s affairs. As a full service firm, our Suffolk County Estate attorneys can assist with whatever legal problems the estate or the client’s family may face. This includes working with a client’s other advisers, such as accountants, financial planners, and investment counselors. This “team” approach often serves our clients well. We take pride in the services we provide, with a sensitive, thoughtful approach that will help you reach your goals.
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What is Probate?
Probate is a legal proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court. During Probate, a Surrogate’s Court judge confirms a decedent’s Last Will and Testament. Additionally, the judge will issue a decree which appoints an Executor and grants Letters Testamentary. Letters Testamentary are official court documents with a raised seal. An executor utilizes Letters Testamentary to access the decedent’s assets. When a decedent’s assets do not list a beneficiary, an executor must obtain Letters Testamentary to liquidate or transfer the asset. Assets required to pass through the estate can include the decedent’s home, bank account, stocks, or other financial accounts.
The Probate Process
The Probate process begins with the filing of a Petition for Probate. A Petition for Probate includes information about the decedent and the decedent’s legal heirs. Additionally, the petition contains information about the heirs named in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. The Surrogate’s Court reviews the petition and if everything is in order issues a citation. The probate attorney will serve the citation upon the decedent’s heirs. The executor is responsible for serving the citation upon all of the interested parties. The citation requires the interested parties to appear in the Surrogate’s Court to explain why Letters Testamentary should not be granted. If none of the interested parties appear in court, Letters Testamentary will be granted. If an interested party contests the will, estate litigation begins.
Our Probate attorneys are highly experienced in efficiently navigating the probate process. Using their knowledge of probate, our attorneys are often able to obtain letters testamentary without the need for a court appearance. Thereby saving the estate, executor, and heirs valuable time and reducing legal expenses. When court appearances become necessary, you can trust that our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to successfully admit the decedent’s will to probate.
Distribution of Assets
During this stage of the probate process, our estate attorneys will ensure the decedent’s final wishes are carried out. As a full service law firm, our attorneys are uniquely positioned to assist in the probate process, the sale of real estate, and locating assets. When it comes time to distribute money or property to heirs, our probate lawyers will assist the executor every step of the way. Additionally, the probate attorney assigned to your case will ensure that the executor’s personal fiduciary duties are maintained. Most importantly, our job is to provide legal protection for the executor and the estate.
Finally, the estate is ready to enter the closing phase after all assets have been identified and collected. Your probate attorney will draft an accounting of all assets, expenses, and liabilities. The attorney will then distribute the accounting to all of the heirs. Upon approval of the accounting, the assets can be distributed as the decedent intended. If an heir fails to approve the accounting, the estate will enter a formal accounting proceeding. A formal accounting proceeding can be complicated and time consuming. The Long Island probate attorneys at George E. Patsis, PLLC
Thereafter, the executor and probate attorney will complete an inventory which will be filed with the Surrogate’s Court.
This is only a short overview of an uncontested Probate Proceeding. There are occasions where certain family members will become disagreeable and complicate the process. When probate becomes contested, you can feel confident that our Estate Litigation attorneys are ready to protect your rights.
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What is a will contest?
While infrequent, probate disputes can be emotional and contentious legal proceedings. No matter how thorough you are, there may still be some probate disagreements. We represent family members during probate litigation relating to breaches of fiduciary duties, will contests, undue influence, applications to remove a trustee, and fraudulent transfers. We work hard to resolve probate issues promptly and in the most cost-efficient way possible.
Probate / Estate Litigation
My Family Member Died Without a Will – Administration
In New York, when a person dies without a will the laws of intestacy determine who inherits the estate. After a person has died without a will, the heirs must resolve the estate through an Administration proceeding. Anyone with an interest in the estate, even a creditor, can file an Administration proceeding. Most often, a surviving spouse or child is the party that files an administration proceeding. The objective of an Administration proceeding is to determine who inherits the estate. Likewise, an Administration proceeding will result in the appointment of an Administrator and the issuance of Letters of Administration.
An Administrator, like an executor, is a fiduciary appointed by the Surrogate’s Court to collect and distribute estate assets. The Administrator is responsible for collecting estate assets, such as bank accounts, stocks, motor vehicles, boats, and the decedent’s home and other real estate. The Administrator is able to collect assets by presenting a financial institution with Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration are an official court document, with a raised seal. The document provides the Administrator with the power collect assets.
Who Inherits Under the Laws of Intestacy?
The laws of intestacy control who inherits the estate of a person who dies without a will. First in line to inherit is the decedent’s spouse and children. If the decedent has a spouse, but no children, the spouse inherits everything. On the other hand, if the decedent has a spouse and children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000.00 plus half of the remaining balance and the children inherit the remainder. Similarly, where a decedent has no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parents inherit everything. If the decedent’s parents are not living, the decedent’s siblings will equally share the estate. Where a decedent has no spouse, children, parents, or siblings, the estate will pass to aunts, uncles, or cousins. Finally, if the decedent has no cousins, the estate will pass to New York State.
The Administration Process
The Administration process begins with the filing of a petition with the Surrogate’s Court. After an Administration Petition is filed with the Surrogate’s Court a citation is issued to all of the decedent’s heirs. The citation requires the heirs to appear in Court. The heirs may either consent to the administration or object. If all of the heirs consent, or fail to appear at the Surrogate’s Court, the judge will issue a decree and Letters of Administration.
Our Administration attorneys are highly skilled in efficiently managing the Administration process. Using their knowledge of Administration, our attorneys are often able to obtain Letters of Administration without a single court appearance. As a result, saving the estate, administrator, and heirs valuable time and reducing legal expenses. When court appearances become necessary, you can trust that our administration attorneys have the experience and knowledge to successfully protect your inheritance.