Probate & Estate Administration
If a loved one has passed away in the Capital District area, then the Law Offices can guide you through probate and the estate administration process. Whether you have been named as an Executor or beneficiary in a relative’s Will or if your loved one did not have a Last Will & Testament, the legal process can be confusing and time consuming. The Law Office of Muller & Mannix, PLLC. can help you work through the probate proceedings to become appointed as the Executor or Executrix, Administrator or Administratrix, negotiate and settle the Estate’s debts, distribute assets and help you understand all of your legal rights and responsibilities.
Probate process is the legal process of establishing the validity of a person’s Last Will and Testament in a Surrogate’s Court. If your loved one did not have a Last Will and Testament, then the process is called an Estate Administration. An Estate Administration can be much more demanding because the Court does not have the direction and assistance of a Last Will & Testament, which tells the Court what the decedent desired to occur with his or her assets. In an Estate Administration, the appointed Administrator must distribute the assets pursuant to New York State’s intestacy laws.
As you can see below, New York State’s Intestacy laws are unbelievably complicated and confusing. Under the Estates, Powers and Trusts laws [EPTL], where a person dies without a Last Will and Testament, then the decedent’s assets are distributed, after payment of funeral expenses, taxes and payment of decedent’s creditors, as follows:
- If a decedent is survived by:
- A spouse and issue [the decedent’s children or other lineal descendants such as grandchildren and great-grandchildren], then $50,000.00 and one-half of the remainder of the estate assets to the surviving spouse and the balance of the assets to the decedent’s issue by representation;
- A spouse but no issue, then all of the estate assets go to the surviving spouse;
- Issue but no surviving spouse, then all of the estate assets go to the decedent’s issue by representation;
- One or both parents are still alive, but there is no surviving spouse and no issue, then the entire estate assets to the decedent’s surviving parent or parents;
- Issue of decedent’s parents [aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.] but no surviving spouse, no issue or parent of the decedent, then the estate assets go to the issue of the parents by representation.
- One or more grandparents or the issue of grandparents of the decedent, but no spouse, no issue of the decedent, no surviving parent or issue of parents, then one-half of the estate assets go to the surviving paternal grandparent or grandparents, or if neither of the paternal grandparents survives the decedent, then the estate assets go to paternal grandparents’ issue by representation, and the other one-half of the estate assets go to the surviving maternal grandparent or grandparents, or if neither of the maternal grandparents survives the decedent, then the estate assets go to the maternal grandparents’ issue, by representation; provided that if the decedent was not survived by a grandparent or grandparents on one side or by the issue of such grandparents, the whole to the surviving grandparent or grandparents on the other side, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation, in the same manner as the onehalf. For the purposes of this subparagraph, issue of grandparents shall not include issue more remote than grandchildren of such grandparents.
- Great-grandchildren of grandparents, but no spouse, issue, parent, issue of parents, grandparent, children of grandparents or grandchildren of grandparents, then onehalf of the estate assets to the great-grandchildren of the paternal grandparents, per capita, and the other one-half to the great-grandchildren of the maternal grandparents, per capita; provided that if the decedent was not survived by great-grandchildren of grandparents on one side, the whole to the great-grandchildren of grandparents on the other side, in the same manner as the one-half.
Source: EPTL § 4-1.1.
You do not need to navigate these confusing laws alone. Our legal team can help you understand the legal language and the court process. As an Executor or Administrator, you are responsible for making payments of debts, paying taxes and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Estate taxes can be imposed on estates of individuals at the time of their passing. The New York State limit is currently one million dollars, meaning every estate in excess of one million dollars must pay a tax. The executor is responsible for paying the tax out of the proceeds of the estate. The tax must be paid within nine months of the date of death of the individual. Therefore, it is important to begin the work quickly. An Executor or Administrator can be personally liable for incorrectly handling the debts, taxes improperly distributing the estate assets.
In order for you to handle the legal affairs of your deceased loved one, you may need Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration are the legal documents provided by the Surrogate’s Court in the County where decedent lived, which authorizes the Executor or Administrator to administer the estate, including conducting such functions as settling debts with creditors, paying estate taxes, selling real property or other assets and distributing an inheritance to the proper beneficiaries.
Cut through the legal language and confusion by calling your legal team at Muller & Mannix, PLLC. at 518-793-2535 or contact us online to schedule an appointment for a private and confidential consultation with an experienced Probate Attorney.