You may have heard that you should avoid probate but many people in Williamsville are unfamiliar with the estate planning options that would achieve this goal. If a person only has a will when they pass or if they have no estate plan at all, their estate will need to be probated. In New York there are two options for probate: the traditional probate process and probate of small estates.
The basics of probate in New York
If you only have a will or have no estate plan at all, when you die your estate will go through the probate process. If you have a will, that will is validated, taxes and other expenses are paid out of estate assets and the estate is distributed to your heirs as specified in your will.
If you do not have a will, your taxes and other expenses will still be paid out of estate assets. Following that, your remaining assets will be passed on to your heirs through state laws on “intestate succession,” which is simply the statutory laws that outline who is to inherit if a person does not have a will at the time of their death. Probate is a lengthy process that could take months to complete.
Probate of small estates in New York through Voluntary Administration
New York offers an expedited option for those who die with a small estate known as Voluntary Administration. If the decedent’s estate has less than $50,000 in personal property, regardless of whether the decedent left a will, it can be probated through Voluntary Administration.
A person who owns a house or land upon their death that is in their name alone cannot pursue Voluntary Administration. However, if a person owns a house or land jointly with another person, but still has less than $50,000 in personal property, then they can qualify for Voluntary Administration.
If a person qualifies for Voluntary Administration, each asset will be certified by the Surrogate’s Court and distributed per state law. This is generally quicker and easier than going through the formal probate process.
Learn more about probate in New York
If probate seems complicated to you, you are not alone. Many people in New York do not know much about the probate process or methods for avoiding probate. Fortunately, with the right help you can establish an estate plan that allows you to avoid probate.