What is Probate ?
Probate is the legal process of filing a Will of someone who has died to the court for approval. The court approves the Will and legally appoints the executor named under the Will who then carries out the terms of the Will.
A common misconception is that probate in New York can take over a year, is very expensive and should be avoided. This is often not true when it is handled correctly. It is important to realize that avoiding probate does not mean avoiding estate taxes and trust and estate administration. Avoiding probate may not make the estate settlement process less complicated or time-consuming.
How Can I Avoid Probate?
You can avoid probate with the right legal documents and the proper titling of your assets and beneficiary designations. Forms to create a trust that are found in computer software, at stationery stores, and online are not written with your situation in mind and may not comply with New York law. Usually a trust is established to avoid probate, but establishing a trust alone does nothing! Assets must be transferred into the trust by retitling the asset in the name of the Trust which means transferring the deed to real estate to the name of the trust. If this is not done those assets may need to go through probate.