There is a very good chance that you will be directly involved in the probate of an estate at some point in your life. Your involvement might be the result of being appointed to be the Executor of an estate in a decedent’s Last Will and Testament or because you volunteer for the equivalent position in an intestate estate. You could also be involved because you are a beneficiary or heir of an estate, or even a creditor of an estate. If you do find yourself involved in the probate process, one of the first things you may want to know is how long does probate take in New York?
What Is Probate?
When someone dies, he/she leaves behind an estate that is comprised of all the assets owned by the decedent at the time of death. The legal process that handles the disposition of those assets is known as “probate.” Probate also serves as a way to authenticate the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, pay creditors of the estate, and ensure that state and federal taxes owed by the estate are paid.
How Long Does Probate Take?
Because every estate is as unique as the decedent, it is impossible to know exactly how long it will take to probate any estate ahead of time; however, there are some common factors that typically have a direct impact on how long it takes for an estate to make it through the probate process, including:
- Type of probate required – not all estates are required to go through formal probate. Some estates will qualify for an alternative to formal probate known as small estate administration. If the estate qualifies to be probated as s small estate, the amount of time it takes to get through the probate process will be significantly shorter.
- Size of the estate – although there are exceptions to this general rule, as a general rule, the larger the estate, the longer it will take to get through probate.
- Type of assets – while the size of the estate usually matters, that is only true if the estate is made up predominantly of probate assets. Not all estate assets are required to go through probate. Therefore, one of the first things that an Executor/PR must do is separate assets into probate and non-probate assets. Non-probate assets, such as trust assets, life insurance proceeds, and certain jointly held property, bypass the probate process altogether.
- Complexity of the assets involved – if the estate includes business assets, for example, the complexity of those assets will often make the probate process take longer.
- Estate liquidity – an estate should always have sufficient liquid assets to pay creditor claims and cover any tax debts. If the estate lacks liquidity, estate assets will need to be sold to cover debts and taxes. Selling estate assets can hold up the probate of the estate.
- Will challenge – if someone files a Will contest, the ensuing litigation will hold up the process for months, even years, because the probate process cannot resume until the contest is resolved.
- Executor/PR – people often make the mistake of appointing an Executor in their Will without giving the matter much thought. It isn’t until the Testator’s death that the ramifications of that choice become clear if the chosen Executor doesn’t have the experience and/or skills needed to perform he job well. The right Executor/PR can help an estate move through the probate process efficiently and economically whereas the wrong Executor/PR can cause delays in the probate process and drain the estate of assets.
- Time Allowed for Creditor Claims – most states, including New York, only allow a creditor a specific period of time within which to file claims. The probate process cannot be concluded until that time period has run. In New York, creditors have seven months to file a claim against the estate.
If you have questions or concerns relating to the probate of an estate in the State of New York, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.