Just because a person has a will does not mean that their estate and assets will be distributed to recipients automatically upon their death. In New York, as in other states, the will must be passed through the probate process in order to initiate the distribution process.

This is usually done by the person who is named as the executor in the will. This is the person who will be responsible for initiating probate and overseeing its general execution during the process. They may be responsible for such items as classifying property, marking beneficiaries for distribution, and dealing with taxes or outstanding debt.

Which Types of Assets or Accounts Are Not Subject to Probate in New York?

While most of a person’s assets are subject to the probate process, there are certain mechanisms by which a person can avoid probate. This may be helpful for the surviving relatives and friends, as the probate process can consume much time and resources. Assets or accounts that are not subject to the probate process in New York include:

  • Payable on death accounts: Beneficiaries can often access monies held in such accounts without going through the probate court
  • Property held as joint property
  • Transfer-on-death properties: These may include many types of properties, including securities and vehicle titles)
  • Living trust accounts

What Are Some Common Will Disputes in New York?

Wills that are not properly written or are unclear may lead to various legal disputes. Some common will disputes include:

  • Instances where the wrong person gets an item of property
  • Instances where a beneficiary gets the wrong property or the wrong amount
  • Conflicts regarding titles and deeds (i.e. partial property interests)
  • Disputes over the valuation of an asset or property item

These types of disputes may require additional research and analysis in order to resolve them. Again, this can be an additional strain on the beneficiaries and recipients, so it is recommended that a will be revised and reviewed periodically, especially after major life changes or acquisitions.

Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help Probating a Will in New York?

New York probate laws can be complex and may contain various exceptions. You may need to hire a qualified New York probate lawyer if you need legal advice or representation with regards to probate laws. An experienced lawyer can help represent you during any court hearings and can provide you with advice on any issues you might encounter.