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Can an Executor of a Will be a Beneficiary

Can an Executor of a Will be a Beneficiary

The executor of a will is chosen by the testator at the time of the making of the will. Most people like to appoint a family member such as a surviving spouse or child to handle their estate after their death.  Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? Yes. It is not an unusual arrangement. In fact, the majority of executors are beneficiaries!

When there is a large estate with assets that need management, the testator sometimes appoints a neutral a third party such as an attorney or a financial institution to act as a co-executor.  The decedent may also choose to name a sole beneficiary and another unrelated family member who may have more time, or who is better qualified and has more experience in handling business and financial matters as co-executors to share tasks or certain responsibilities. All of those are valid arrangements.

When an executor of a will is also a beneficiary, they may erroneously think that they can take money out of the estate before giving the other beneficiaries their share. The executor might reason, don’t some of the money in the estate account also belong to him? For example, a lady left her inheritance to her four children, and one of the children is an executor. Can the executor-child withdraw cash from the estate and say that he is just withdrawing his own cash? The answer to that is absolutely not. Even though the executor is one of the beneficiaries of the will, at the end of the day the estate is not his. The estate belongs to all the beneficiaries. So if an executor withdraws cash from the estate account, he is considered by the law to be taking everyone’s money, not just his own. As an example, if he withdraws four thousand dollars in cash, he is not considered to be taking four thousand dollars of his own cash from the estate account. Rather, he is considered to be stealing a thousand dollars from each of his siblings. If he withdraws a penny, most of that penny belongs to the other beneficiaries.

To avoid allegations of taking money from others beneficiaries, an executor should ask other beneficiaries to sign a waiver and release before distributing any funds. Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? Yes. But that does not mean that they should not be careful. An executor who is a beneficiary is just as responsible as a non-beneficiary to follow the law and their fiduciary duty to the other beneficiaries. To help with the responsibilities of the estate, it is recommended that an executor-beneficiary obtain the services of an experienced estate attorney.

It is recommended that an executor seek the legal representation of a knowledgeable New York probate and estate attorney in order to be more successful in getting the executor removed and having the beneficiary appointed. The attorney can also be of great assistance in helping the executor perform the required tasks, such as:

•    Locating assets of the decedent
•    Making accountings
•    Approving and denying creditor’s claims
•    Managing financial accounts and real estate
•    Selling real estate
•    Meeting court deadlines and estate tax return deadlines
•    Handing and resolving disputes
•    Distributing assets and winding up and closing the estate

Managing an estate takes a lot of time. Many executors of a will who are beneficiaries are not experienced at handling business, financial or legal matters. A New York probate and estate lawyer to help them with the administration and management of the estate. If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 212-233-1233 or 718-509-9774.

What Does an Executor Do?

what does an executor do?
What does an executor do? Typically the things listed below, though not necessarily in this order:

  • Hire an estate attorney and follow their advise
  • File the petition and supporting documents to get confirmed as the executor by the probate court
  • Coordinate with the estate attorney on court hearings and filing documents with the court
  • Officially notify interested parties through a citation or notice of probate
  • Get appointed (confirmed) by the court as the acting executor
  • Take inventory of assets, including personal and real property
  • Create an estate bank account and obtain an estate tax id
  • Locate and marshal (collect and identify) the assets of the estate
  • Manage the estate assets including bank accounts, stock, bonds, retirement accounts, pensions
  • Pay or decline the decedent’s debts
  • Pay creditors and other claims including funeral expenses and any estate taxes that may be due out of estate assets
  • Pay legal fees of the estate
  • Prudently manage the investment of assets in the interim
  • Sell personal and real property or distribute to beneficiaries in accordance with the will
  • Distribute assets
  • Contact an employer to find out about the testator’s employee benefits
  • Manage the testator’s business
  • Submit an accounting to the court and beneficiaries
  • Communicate with the beneficiaries on a regular basis to keep them informed of important financial matters
  • Resolve disputes that may arise between beneficiaries
  • Get signed releases from beneficiaries before disbursing any funds
  • Wind up and settle the estate
  • Get discharged as executor

The executor is responsible for carrying out the wishes and intent of the testator (the person who made the will) and must do so by acting in good faith and by carrying out the wishes of the testator, representing the best interests of the beneficiaries at all times during the probate administration of the estate and winding up and closing of an estate.

When choosing a New York executor, the testator should keep in mind qualities such as experience, ability to handle and manage business matters, competency and availability.  The testator may appoint a spouse, another family member, friend, attorney or any other person over the age of 18 years of age to act as the executor. It is also common for a testator to appoint a co-executor or successor as well.

A New York executor can initiate the filing of a Probate proceeding with the New York Surrogate’s Court by filing the original will and death certificate with the court and is responsible for obtaining and filing any other necessary documentation that the Court may require.

There are all sorts of contractual or legal matters that may require a New York executor’s attention. For instance, if the testator owned commercial property and had tenants, the executor may have to collect rents, work with a property management company or hire one depending on the size of the building and the number of tenants. What does an executor do? The executor may have to work with attorneys and accountants in order to make sure assets are properly valued and contractual obligations are completed.

In New York, an executor is entitled to receive compensation for his or her services in accordance with New York Laws. When a spouse or a family member acts as executor, many times they do not take compensation for their services, especially when they are also a beneficiary receiving a distribution of assets under the will.

An executor is held a higher standard of behavior and is expected to act in an honest, fair and ethical manner. If a New York executor breaches their fiduciary duty, the executor could be held legally liable for any losses suffered by the estate or beneficiaries. An executor in New York can be removed by the beneficiaries for breach of fiduciary duty and could be subject to restitution of any financial losses to the estate and beneficiaries, as well as face criminal charges if the executor committed any crimes such as embezzlement of estate assets.

Acting an executor is a big responsibility, especially if an estate is large and has substantial assets. That is why some spouses or family members decide they do not want to take on the job and end up resigning and hiring an attorney or another personal representative to replace them and administer the estate.

If you wish to speak to hire a New York estate attorney to assist you with your duties as executor, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.

What is an Estate Probate Attorney

what is an estate probate attorney

An estate probate attorney helps administrators and executors close-out and settle estates. An estate probate attorney’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that an estate probate attorney does:

  • Helps the executor or administrator fill out the petition for estate probate. The petition for estate probate is the primary document that commences the probate process. The petition includes all of the information about the person who died, the information about the person who would like to become the administrator or executor, information about the people who benefit from the will and the information about the closest living relatives of the person who died (the closest living relatives of the person who died are often the beneficiaries of their will, but not always.)
  • Obtains all the supporting documents. The petition for estate probate is not the only document that the estate probate attorney submits to the court. The petition also needs supporting documents. Those documents include the death certificate, copy of a funeral bill and various affidavits proving the relationship to the person who died. The documents may also include death and birth certificates of the various people involved, notices to tax authorities, affidavits of heirship, Citations, Notices of Probate, and various other documents.
  • Submits the petition and the supporting documents to the probate court. Your probate attorney will submit all of the documents that are needed to the probate court and then follows up with the probate court to make sure that the documents are sufficient and no more documents are required, and that the court accepts the documents that are submitted.
  • Attends court hearings. There can be one or more court hearings on a probate case, and the estate probate attorney attends all of them, to represent his client before the court.
  • Follows through to make sure that your goal is accomplished. Whether you are the person who wishes to be appointed the executor or administrator of the estate, or you are trying to prevent someone from being appointed, or you are just trying to monitor what is happening in the estate of which you are a beneficiary, what is an estate probate attorney if not someone who is there to represent your best interest and make sure that your goals are met.
  • Can help you locate assets. Some estates have easy to locate assets, and some assets are harder to find. But what is an estate probate attorney who cannot help you locate assets? Although estate probate attorneys sometimes need assistance from private investigators, there are still ways for an estate probate attorney to help their client find assets. This is done by advising clients for the best strategies to locate assets, such as advising the client where to look. A powerful tool that we have to locate assets is subpoenas to the financial institutions that may hold the assets. To locate which institutions make the most sense to look, we ask the client where the person who died liked to bank, look at the map of the area and locate the financial institutions that are close to the address where the person lived, and we subpoena the most common financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, PNC Bank and TD Bank.
  • Can help you value assets. Some assets have straightforward value, and some are hard to valuate. What is an estate probate attorney if not someone who can argue your preferred value to the beneficiaries, IRS and the court.
  • Will deal with disagreements. In the course of an estate probate proceeding, disagreements can arise. The most common disputes are a will contest or a contested accounting. A will contest involves someone challenging a validity of the will, usually saying that the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity or was unduly influenced to benefit a particular person. A contested accounting involves a beneficiary claiming that an executor is stealing from the estate or mismanaging it. What is an estate probate attorney if not someone who can help you prevail in those disagreements or come to a successful compromise?
  • Will draft and submit an estate accounting and defend the estate accounting before the court.
  • And finally, what is an estate probate attorney if not someone who can conduct a trial before the judge or the jury, making sure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing. If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of an estate probate attorney with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

What is an estate probate attorney?

An estate probate attorney is someone who can help you accomplish the following:

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative (executor or administrator)
  • marshal the assets of the estate
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up an estate involves many aspects. What is an estate probate attorney if not someone who understands estate probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will (not a requirement, but sometimes done)
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the estate probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced probate attorney handle your estate will be more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

The Probate Process

The estate probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally, distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those estate probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to complete each one of those steps carefully. You would greatly benefit from having an estate probate attorney represent your throughout the process.

The estate probate process can be challenging to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. What is an estate probate attorney if not a person who can help you navigate the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced probate attorney is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about state and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in a relatively timely and efficient manner.

If you wish to hire an estate probate attorney, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment to discuss your estate probate proceeding.

What is a Probate Attorney

what is a probate attorney

A probate attorney helps administrators and executors close-out and settle estates. A probate attorney’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that a probate attorney does:

  • Helps the executor or administrator fill out the petition for probate. The petition for probate is the primary document that commences the probate process. The petition includes all of the information about the person who died, the information about the person who would like to become the administrator or executor, information about the people who benefit from the will and the information about the closest living relatives of the person who died (the closest living relatives of the person who died are often the beneficiaries of their will, but not always.)
  • Obtains all the supporting documents. The petition for probate is not the only document that the probate attorney submits to the court. The petition also needs supporting documents. Those documents include the death certificate, copy of a funeral bill and various affidavits proving the relationship to the person who died. The documents may also include death and birth certificates of the various people involved, notices to tax authorities, affidavits of heirship, Citations, Notices of Probate, and various other documents.
  • Submits the petition and the supporting documents to the probate court. Your probate attorney will submit all of the documents that are needed to the probate court and then follows up with the probate court to make sure that the documents are sufficient and no more documents are required, and that the court accepts the documents that are submitted.
  • Attends court hearings. There can be one or more court hearings on a probate case, and the probate attorney attends all of them, to represent his client before the court.
  • Follows through to make sure that your goal is accomplished. Whether you are the person who wishes to be appointed the executor or administrator of the estate, or you are trying to prevent someone from being appointed, or you are just trying to monitor what is happening in the estate of which you are a beneficiary, what is a probate attorney if not someone who is there to represent your best interest and make sure that your goals are met.
  • Can help you locate assets. Some estates have easy to locate assets, and some assets are harder to find. But what is a probate attorney who cannot help you locate assets? Although probate attorneys sometimes need assistance from private investigators, there are still ways for a probate attorney to help their client find assets. This is done by advising clients for the best strategies to locate assets, such as advising the client where to look. A powerful tool that we have to locate assets is subpoenas to the financial institutions that may hold the assets. To locate which institutions make the most sense to look, we ask the client where the person who died liked to bank, look at the map of the area and locate the financial institutions that are close to the address where the person lived, and we subpoena the most common financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, PNC Bank and TD Bank.
  • Can help you value assets. Some assets have straightforward value, and some are hard to valuate. What is a probate attorney if not someone who can argue your preferred value to the beneficiaries, IRS and the court.
  • Will deal with disagreements. In the course of a probate proceeding, agreements can arise. The most common disputes are a will contest or a contested accounting. A will contest involves someone challenging a validity of the will, usually saying that the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity or was unduly influenced to benefit a particular person. A contested accounting involves a beneficiary claiming that an executor is stealing from the estate or mismanaging it. What is a probate attorney if not someone who can help you prevail in those disagreements or come to a successful compromise?
  • Will draft and submit an estate accounting and defend the estate accounting before the court.
  • And finally, what is a probate attorney if not someone who can conduct a trial before the judge or the jury, making sure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing. If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of a probate attorney with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

What is a probate attorney?

A probate attorney is someone who can help you accomplish the following:

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative (executor or administrator)
  • marshal the assets of the estate
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up an estate involves many aspects. What is a probate attorney if not someone who understands the probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will (not a requirement, but sometimes done)
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced probate attorney handle your estate will be more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

The Probate Process

The probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally, distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to complete each one of those steps carefully. You would greatly benefit from having a probate attorney represent your throughout the process.

The probate process can be challenging to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. What is a probate attorney if not a person who can help you navigate the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced probate attorney is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about state and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in a relatively timely and efficient manner.

If you wish to hire a probate attorney, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment to discuss your probate proceeding.

Letter of Probate

A letter of Probate is an informal name for a court order issued by the Surrogate’s Court or Probate Court, which permits a person to act on behalf of an estate of a person who died with a will. A person who is nominated by a will to be an executor of an estate does not have the power or authority to act on behalf of an estate until they apply for, and are issued, letter of Probate by the Surrogate’s Court.

The document is actually called Letters of Testamentary, and like we said, it’s not a letter – it’s a court order. The confusion stems from the fact that Order used to be called Letter hundreds of years ago.

Here is a redacted picture of letter of probate obtained by our law firm:

 letter of Probate

Letter of Probate authorizes a person to act as a representative of an estate. They allow a person to perform responsibilities of an estate. Here are some of the things a person can do once they are appointed as an administrator of an estate by letter of Probate issued by the Surrogate’s Court:

  • Obtain a tax id number for an estate from the federal government
  • Open an estate bank account
  • Request information from banks and other institutions that control the decedent’s assets. The banks will comply if you show them the letter of Probate and the death certificate
  • Transfer assets from the decedent’s name to the name of the estate
  • Pay debts of the decedent
  • Collect claims of the decedent
  • Marshal assets of the estate
  • Distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries of the estate, after obtaining proper waivers or providing an accounting

Those things would be impossible to do without a letter of Probate. The banks will not give you information and will not transfer the assets, the county recorder will not record property deeds, and a buyer will not buy a property from you.

You often need more than one, since each bank and government agency would require an original. Also, some institutions require a more official-looking document. This is why the court can also issue a Certificate of Appointment of Executor, which is printed on a watermarked blue and red paper and looks similar to a death certificate, birth certificate or marriage certificate.

Here is a redacted picture of a Certificate of Appointment of Executor obtained by our law firm:

 Certificate of Appointment of Executor

How to Get Letter of Probate

In order to get a letter of Probate, one would have to apply to the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the person who died resided. You would need your estate attorney help you get the documents together, such as the petition for probate, the original last will and testament of the decedent, the original death certificate, a copy if the funeral bill, as well as other documents such as waivers, citation, proposed order, affidavit of heirship, family tree, due diligence, etc., and appear in court on your behalf.

Even if the decedent died in a different state, and you have a letter of Probate from that state, you will still need to obtain a separate letter of Probate by verifying the out-of-state letter of Probate through an ancillary probate proceeding.

Letter of Probate is issued when a person died with a will, to a person who applies and is appointed by the court as the administrator of a deceased person’s estate. A person can only be an executor of an estate if they are nominated by the will of the person who died and is otherwise qualified – are over the age of 18 and are not a convicted felon.

How Long Does it Take to Get Letter of Probate

It typically takes a few months to get a letter of Probate. If the probate is contested, i.e. if someone is challenging the will, then getting a letter of Probate can take years, or they can be potentially denied altogether. Although getting the letters is only one of the steps of the probate process, it is the most important step.

If the person who died did not leave a will, the document will be similar and with similar powers, but it will be called “Letters of Administration,” and the Certificate will be called “Certificate of the Appointment of Administrator.”

If you need assistance from an attorney in obtaining a letter of Probate, you can call me, Albert Goodwin, Esq., New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer, at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.

Brooklyn Probate Lawyer

Brooklyn Probate lawyer

A Brooklyn probate lawyer helps administrators and executors close-out and settle Brooklyn estates. A probate lawyer’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that a probate lawyer does:

  • A Brooklyn probate lawyer helps the executor or administrator of a Brooklyn estate fill out the petition for probate. The petition for probate is the primary document that commences the probate process. The petition includes all of the information about the person who died, the information about the person who would like to become the administrator or executor, information about the people who benefit from the will and the information about the closest living relatives of the person who died (the closest living relatives of the person who died are often the beneficiaries of their will, but not always.)
  • A probate lawyer obtains all the supporting documents. The petition for probate is not the only document that the probate lawyer submits to the court. The petition also needs supporting documents. Those documents include the death certificate, copy of a funeral bill and various affidavits proving the relationship to the person who died. The documents may also include death and birth certificates of the various people involved, notices to tax authorities, affidavits of heirship, Citations, Notices of Probate, and various other documents.
  • A probate lawyer submits the petition and the supporting documents to the probate court. Your probate lawyer will submit all of the documents that are needed to the probate court and then follows up with the probate court to make sure that the documents are sufficient and no more documents are required, and that the court accepts the documents that are submitted.
  • A probate lawyer attends court hearings. There can be one or more court hearings on a probate case, and the probate lawyer attends all of them, to represent his client before the court.
  • A probate lawyer follows through to make sure that your goal is accomplished. Whether you are the person who wishes to be appointed the executor or administrator of the estate, or you are trying to prevent someone from being appointed, or you are just trying to monitor what is happening in the estate of which you are a beneficiary, a probate lawyer is there to represent your best interest and make sure that your goals are met.
  • A probate lawyer can help you locate assets. Some estates have easy to locate assets, and some assets are harder to find. Although probate lawyers sometimes need assistance from private investigators, there are still ways for a probate lawyer to help their client find assets. This is done by advising clients for the best strategies to locate assets, such as advising the client where to look. A powerful tool that we have to locate assets is subpoenas to the financial institutions that may hold the assets. To locate which institutions make the most sense to look, we ask the client where the person who died liked to bank, look at the map of the area and locate the financial institutions that are close to the address where the person lived, and we subpoena the most common financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, PNC Bank and TD Bank.
  • A probate lawyer can help you value assets. Some assets have straightforward value, and some are hard to valuate. A probate lawyer can argue your preferred value to the beneficiaries, IRS and the court.
  • A probate lawyer will deal with disagreements. In the course of a probate proceeding, agreements can arise. The most common disputes are a will contest or a contested accounting. A will contest involves someone challenging a validity of the will, usually saying that the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity or was unduly influenced to benefit a particular person. A contested accounting involves a beneficiary claiming that an executor is stealing from the estate or mismanaging it. A probate lawyer can help you prevail in those disagreements or come to a successful compromise?
  • A probate lawyer will draft and submit an estate accounting and defend the estate accounting before the court.
  • And finally, a probate lawyer can conduct a trial before the judge or the jury, making sure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing. If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of a probate lawyer with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

A Brooklyn probate lawyer is someone who can help you accomplish the following in Brooklyn:

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative (executor or administrator)
  • marshal the assets of the estate
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up a Brooklyn estate involves many things. A Brooklyn probate lawyer understands the local probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will (not a requirement, but sometimes done)
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced Brooklyn probate lawyer with the knowledge of how courts here work can handle your estate in a way that is more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

Brooklyn probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally, distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to complete each one of those steps carefully. You would greatly benefit from having a probate lawyer represent your throughout the process.

The probate process can be challenging to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. A probate lawyer can help you navigate the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced probate lawyer is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about state and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in a relatively timely and efficient manner.

If you wish to hire a Brooklyn probate lawyer, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment to discuss your probate proceeding.

New York Probate Lawyer

New York Probate lawyer

A New York probate lawyer helps administrators and executors close-out and settle New York estates. A probate lawyer’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that a probate lawyer does:

  • A New York probate lawyer helps the executor or administrator of a New York estate fill out the petition for probate. The petition for probate is the primary document that commences the probate process. The petition includes all of the information about the person who died, the information about the person who would like to become the administrator or executor, information about the people who benefit from the will and the information about the closest living relatives of the person who died (the closest living relatives of the person who died are often the beneficiaries of their will, but not always.)
  • A probate lawyer obtains all the supporting documents. The petition for probate is not the only document that the probate lawyer submits to the court. The petition also needs supporting documents. Those documents include the death certificate, copy of a funeral bill and various affidavits proving the relationship to the person who died. The documents may also include death and birth certificates of the various people involved, notices to tax authorities, affidavits of heirship, Citations, Notices of Probate, and various other documents.
  • A probate lawyer submits the petition and the supporting documents to the probate court. Your probate lawyer will submit all of the documents that are needed to the probate court and then follows up with the probate court to make sure that the documents are sufficient and no more documents are required, and that the court accepts the documents that are submitted.
  • A probate lawyer attends court hearings. There can be one or more court hearings on a probate case, and the probate lawyer attends all of them, to represent his client before the court.
  • A New York probate lawyer follows through to make sure that your goal is accomplished. Whether you are the person who wishes to be appointed the executor or administrator of the estate, or you are trying to prevent someone from being appointed, or you are just trying to monitor what is happening in the estate of which you are a beneficiary, a probate lawyer is there to represent your best interest and make sure that your goals are met.
  • A probate lawyer can help you locate assets. Some estates have easy to locate assets, and some assets are harder to find. Although probate lawyers sometimes need assistance from private investigators, there are still ways for a probate lawyer to help their client find assets. This is done by advising clients for the best strategies to locate assets, such as advising the client where to look. A powerful tool that we have to locate assets is subpoenas to the financial institutions that may hold the assets. To locate which institutions make the most sense to look, we ask the client where the person who died liked to bank, look at the map of the area and locate the financial institutions that are close to the address where the person lived, and we subpoena the most common financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, PNC Bank and TD Bank.
  • A probate lawyer can help you value assets. Some assets have straightforward value, and some are hard to valuate. A probate lawyer can argue your preferred value to the beneficiaries, IRS and the court.
  • A New York probate lawyer will deal with disagreements. In the course of a probate proceeding, agreements can arise. The most common disputes are a will contest or a contested accounting. A will contest involves someone challenging a validity of the will, usually saying that the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity or was unduly influenced to benefit a particular person. A contested accounting involves a beneficiary claiming that an executor is stealing from the estate or mismanaging it. A probate lawyer can help you prevail in those disagreements or come to a successful compromise?
  • A probate lawyer will draft and submit an estate accounting and defend the estate accounting before the court.
  • And finally, a probate lawyer can conduct a trial before the judge or the jury, making sure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing. If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of a probate lawyer with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

A New York probate lawyer is someone who can help you accomplish the following in New York:

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative (executor or administrator)
  • marshal the assets of the estate
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up a New York estate involves many things. A New York probate lawyer understands the local probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will (not a requirement, but sometimes done)
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced New York probate lawyer with the knowledge of how courts here work can handle your estate in a way that is more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

New York probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally, distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to complete each one of those steps carefully. You would greatly benefit from having a probate lawyer represent your throughout the process.

The probate process can be challenging to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. A probate lawyer can help you navigate the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced probate lawyer is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about state and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in a relatively timely and efficient manner.

If you wish to hire a New York probate lawyer, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment to discuss your probate proceeding.

What is a Probate Lawyer

Probate lawyer

A probate lawyer helps administrators and executors close-out and settle estates. A probate lawyer’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that a probate lawyer does:

  • A probate lawyer helps the executor or administrator fill out the petition for probate. The petition for probate is the primary document that commences the probate process. The petition includes all of the information about the person who died, the information about the person who would like to become the administrator or executor, information about the people who benefit from the will and the information about the closest living relatives of the person who died (the closest living relatives of the person who died are often the beneficiaries of their will, but not always.)
  • A probate lawyer obtains all the supporting documents. The petition for probate is not the only document that the probate lawyer submits to the court. The petition also needs supporting documents. Those documents include the death certificate, copy of a funeral bill and various affidavits proving the relationship to the person who died. The documents may also include death and birth certificates of the various people involved, notices to tax authorities, affidavits of heirship, Citations, Notices of Probate, and various other documents.
  • A probate lawyer submits the petition and the supporting documents to the probate court. Your probate lawyer will submit all of the documents that are needed to the probate court and then follows up with the probate court to make sure that the documents are sufficient and no more documents are required, and that the court accepts the documents that are submitted.
  • A probate lawyer attends court hearings. There can be one or more court hearings on a probate case, and the probate lawyer attends all of them, to represent his client before the court.
  • A probate lawyer follows through to make sure that your goal is accomplished. Whether you are the person who wishes to be appointed the executor or administrator of the estate, or you are trying to prevent someone from being appointed, or you are just trying to monitor what is happening in the estate of which you are a beneficiary, what is a probate lawyer if not someone who is there to represent your best interest and make sure that your goals are met.
  • A probate lawyer can help you locate assets. Some estates have easy to locate assets, and some assets are harder to find. But what is a probate lawyer who cannot help you locate assets? Although probate lawyers sometimes need assistance from private investigators, there are still ways for a probate lawyer to help their client find assets. This is done by advising clients for the best strategies to locate assets, such as advising the client where to look. A powerful tool that we have to locate assets is subpoenas to the financial institutions that may hold the assets. To locate which institutions make the most sense to look, we ask the client where the person who died liked to bank, look at the map of the area and locate the financial institutions that are close to the address where the person lived, and we subpoena the most common financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, PNC Bank and TD Bank.
  • A probate lawyer can help you value assets. Some assets have straightforward value, and some are hard to valuate.  What is a probate lawyer if not someone who can argue your preferred value to the beneficiaries, IRS and the court.
  • A probate lawyer will deal with disagreements. In the course of a probate proceeding, agreements can arise. The most common disputes are a will contest or a contested accounting. A will contest involves someone challenging a validity of the will, usually saying that the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity or was unduly influenced to benefit a particular person. A contested accounting involves a beneficiary claiming that an executor is stealing from the estate or mismanaging it. What is a probate lawyer if not someone who can help you prevail in those disagreements or come to a successful compromise?
  • A probate lawyer will draft and submit an estate accounting and defend the estate accounting before the court.
  • And finally, what is a probate lawyer if not someone who can conduct a trial before the judge or the jury, making sure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing. If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of a probate lawyer with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

What is a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer is someone who can help you accomplish the following:

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative (executor or administrator)
  • marshal the assets of the estate
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up an estate involves many aspects. What is a probate lawyer if not someone who understands the probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will (not a requirement, but sometimes done)
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced probate lawyer handle your estate will be more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

The Probate Process

The probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally, distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to complete each one of those steps carefully. You would greatly benefit from having a probate lawyer represent your throughout the process.

The probate process can be challenging to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. What is a probate lawyer if not a person who can help you navigate the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced probate lawyer is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about state and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in a relatively timely and efficient manner.

If you wish to hire a probate lawyer, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment to discuss your probate proceeding.

Certified Letter of Testamentary

A certified letter of testamentary is an official name for a document issued by the Surrogate’s Court or Probate Court, which permits a person to act on behalf of an estate of a person who died with a will. A person who is nominated by a will to be an executor of an estate does not have the power or authority to act on behalf of an estate until they apply for, and are issued, a certified letter of testamentary by the Surrogate’s Court.

The document is actually called Letters of Testamentary, and it’s not a letter – it’s a court order. The confusion stems from the fact that Order used to be called Letter hundreds of years ago.

Here is a redacted picture of a certified letter of testamentary obtained by our law firm:

 certified letter of testamentary

A certified letter of testamentary authorizes a person to act as a representative of an estate. They allow a person to perform the responsibilities of an estate. Here are some of the things a person can do once they are appointed as an administrator of an estate by a certified letter of testamentary issued by the Surrogate’s Court:

  • Obtain a tax id number for an estate from the federal government
  • Open an estate bank account
  • Request information from banks and other institutions that control the decedent’s assets. The banks will comply if you show them the certified letter of testamentary and the death certificate
  • Transfer assets from the decedent’s name to the name of the estate
  • Pay debts of the decedent
  • Collect claims of the decedent
  • Marshal assets of the estate
  • Distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries of the estate, after obtaining proper waivers or providing an accounting

Those things would be impossible to do without a certified letter of testamentary. The banks will not give you information and will not transfer the assets, the county recorder will not record property deeds, and a buyer will not buy a property from you.

You often need more than one, since each bank and government agency would require an original. Also, some institutions require a more official-looking document. This is why the court can also issue a Certificate of Appointment of Executor, which is printed on a watermarked blue and red paper and looks similar to a death certificate, birth certificate or marriage certificate.

Here is a redacted picture of a Certificate of Appointment of Executor obtained by our law firm:

 Certificate of Appointment of Executor

How to Get a Certified letter of testamentary

In order to get a certified letter of testamentary, one would have to apply to the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the person who died resided. You would need your estate attorney help you get the documents together, such as the petition for probate, the original last will and testament of the decedent, the original death certificate, a copy if the funeral bill, as well as other documents such as waivers, citation, proposed order, affidavit of heirship, family tree, due diligence, etc., and appear in court on your behalf.

Even if the decedent died in a different state, and you have a certified letter of testamentary from that state, you will still need to obtain a separate certified letter of testamentary by verifying the out-of-state certified letter of testamentary through an ancillary probate proceeding.

A certified letter of testamentary is issued when a person died with a will, to a person who applies and is appointed by the court as the administrator of a deceased person’s estate. A person can only be an executor of an estate if they are nominated by the will of the person who died and is otherwise qualified – are over the age of 18 and are not a convicted felon.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Certified letter of testamentary

It typically takes a few months to get a certified letter of testamentary. If the probate is contested, i.e. if someone is challenging the will, then getting a certified letter of testamentary can take years, or they can be potentially denied altogether. Although getting the letters is only one of the steps of the probate process, it is the most important step.

If the person who died did not leave a will, the document will be similar and with similar powers, but it will be called “Letters of Administration,” and the Certificate will be called “Certificate of the Appointment of Administrator.”

If you need assistance from an attorney in obtaining a certified letter of testamentary, you can call me, Albert Goodwin, Esq., New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer, at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.

New York Probate Attorney

New York probate attorney

Albert Goodwin, Esq. is a New York probate attorney who helps administrators and executors close out and settle estates. Our knowledge of the court system allows us to close and settle matters in New York Surrogate’s Court without unneeded expenses and delays. Call (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 for more information.

The probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • you locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to carefully complete each one of those steps. You would greatly benefit from having a New York probate attorney represent your throughout the process.

The probate process can be difficult to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. For that reason, you want to have a New York probate lawyer navigate you through the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

What Your New York Probate Attorney Can Do For You

Here are some of the things that your New York probate attorney will do:

  • fill out the petition
  • obtain all the supporting documents
  • submit the petition and the supporting documents to the court
  • attend court hearings
  • follow through to make sure that you are appointed as the personal representative
  • locate assets
  • value assets
  • deal with disagreements
  • draft and submit an estate accounting
  • defend estate accounting
  • conduct a trial

If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of an estate litigation attorney with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

If all goes well, you should be able to

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative
  • marshal the assets
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced New York State probate attorney is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about New York State and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in New York Surrogate’s Court in an efficient and quick manner.

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up an estate involves many aspects. A New York probate attorney understands the probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced probate attorney handle your estate will be more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

Here are some of the questions that we are most frequently asked:

How long should probate take?

It is best to wait at least 7 months before closing the proceeding because that is the cutoff point for creditors to make claims against the estate. This is the shortest time it can take, but just as any lawsuit, it can take years if there is a disagreement among interested parties. See the sample probate timeline for more information.

What is the deadline to finish up probate?

Probate should be finished up within a reasonable timeframe. However, what is reasonable can vary depending on the complexity of the case. Disagreements between the parties will prolong the probate process.

What is the deadline to file a will or probate a will?

Although there is no deadline to file or probate a will in New York, it should be done as soon as possible. If the will is not filed within a reasonable time period and a party or a creditor will be disadvantaged as a result, the court will penalize the will holders and credit the disadvantaged party or creditor.

I think my relative is hiding the Will. What can I do?

In a probate proceeding, you can ask your New York probate attorney to file a proceeding to compel that person to produce the will.

Does the estate have to pay executors’ fees?

The executor is entitled to a fee, called a “commission.” It is based on the value of the estate, according to the following schedule:

5% of the first $100,000
4% of the next $200,000
3% of the next $700,000
2 ½% of the next $4,000,000
2% above $5,000,000

However, if the executor also benefits under the will, it might be a good idea to waive the commissions, to save on income taxes.

What happens if a person mentioned in the will is no longer living?

Most wills specify what would happen in this event. If the will is silent on the topic, the children of the person mentioned in the will get the share, but only that person’s children are the testator’s grandchildren or nephews/nieces.

My father divorced his first wife but did not get a chance to change the Will. Will she inherit?

The gift to the former spouse is not valid. However, if the spouse’s children are in the Will, they do get the gift.

I was adopted after a will was executed, and was not mentioned in the Will. Will I inherit?

Yes. The adopted child’s share comes out of the other sibling’s share (this only works if the child was adopted after the will was executed).

Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment with a New York probate attorney to discuss your probate proceeding.