Probate and Estate Administration

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Understanding The Probate Process

When discussing estate planning strategies, probate, specifically the avoidance of probate, is often a central focus. However, you may not fully understand what it is and why so many people wish to avoid it. During the estate planning process, the lawyers at Pope Law Firm, PLLC, can help you understand the probate process and how it would apply to your estate.

Call our office at (716) 634-3320 to schedule a free consultation to learn more about probating an estate.

What Is The Probate Process?

Probate is the legal process for closing out an estate, including managing the assets and debts of a deceased person. If you have to probate a will, a special court, called the probate court, supervises the process and handles the validation and distribution of assets.

To begin the probate process, an executor either named by you in your will or appointed by the court files paperwork in the probate court. The court establishes the validity of a will, if the deceased had a will, and reviews your property, who you wish to inherit the property and any debts. Your executor must locate and protect your assets until probate concludes. From the estate, the executor must pay any final bills and prepare final income taxes. Following payment of debts and taxes, the executor distributes remaining assets to your heirs.

Why Avoid Probate?

The probate process can be lengthy. In general, the process takes several months, but disputes or other problems add additional time. Although the probate process is essentially clerical, you must pay filing fees, attorney fees and other expenses out of the estate. Probate records are public, so if you wish to keep the details of the estate private, it is better to avoid probate.

While you may wish to avoid probate, many of the steps are required to wrap up the deceased’s affairs regardless of whether or not the estate is probated. New York requires estates valued at $30,000 or more to be probated.

Contact Us Today!

If you would like to learn more about the probate process or other estate planning topics, please contact us or call (716) 634-3320 to schedule an appointment at one of our four locations in Williamsville, Lockport, Buffalo or Niagara Falls.