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Contact the law firm of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. at (631) 673-9600 for a consultation about probate proceedings in New York, including the areas of North Babylon, West Islip, Hauppauge, Babylon, Hempstead, Melville, East Northport, Commack, Huntington, Deer Park, Bay Shore, Lindenhurst, Brentwood, North Bay Shore, West Babylon, Central Islip, Amityville and Copiague. Call today to discuss your questions about probating a will throughout the areas of Suffolk County and Nassau County, New York.
If the deceased left a will, i.e. died “testate,” then a probate proceeding must be commenced in the Surrogate’s Court. A probate proceeding accomplishes two functions – admitting the will to probate and appointing a fiduciary or executor.
To admit a will to probate means the court has found the will to be genuine and valid. An executor is appointed to gather the estate’s assets and to distribute these assets according to the terms of the will. Usually, the person nominated in the will to act as executor is the one who commences the probate proceeding.
A probate proceeding is commenced by filing a Petition for Probate, along with the original will, a copy of the will, and a certified death certificate. Other documents and forms are generally required. Which ones are required depends on the particular circumstances of each proceeding and the county in which the proceeding is filed. Generally, the probate proceeding is commenced in the county in New York State in which the decedent was domiciled at the date of death.
Probate is a formal proceeding that requires that certain persons, known as “necessary parties,” be made a party to the proceeding. Among the necessary parties are distributees of the decedent. Distributees are those persons who would share in the decedent’s estate in the absence of a will, i.e. the decedent’s closest heirs. See administration proceedings on Long Island for a more detailed explanation of intestate distribution.
In order for a person to be made a party to the probate proceeding, it is necessary that personal jurisdiction be acquired over the person. This is accomplished in one of two ways. The preferable method is for the person to sign a form known as a Waiver of Process: Consent to Probate. When all the necessary parties sign this form, the will can be admitted to probate, and the executor appointed without the need for a court appearance.
Those necessary parties who do not sign the waiver must be served with a citation to appear in the Surrogate’s Court. Persons that reside in New York State must be served with the citation and a copy of the will by personal delivery. Those residing outside of New York State can be served by certified mail or special mail service.
On the citation return date, anyone wishing to object to either the validity of the will or the appointment of the executor must make their position known to the court. Such persons may then either file formal “Objections to Probate” or seek an examination of the draftsperson of the will and the witnesses to the signing of the will.
If all necessary parties have been properly served or have signed waivers, and no objections are filed, the will can be admitted to probate. The court will then issue a probate decree and a document called “Letters Testamentary,” which is actually a single sheet of paper. The Letters Testamentary are proof of the executor’s authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Contact the law firm of Andrew M. Doktofsky, P.C. today for a free consultation about will probate proceedings throughout Suffolk County and Nassau County, New York. Andrew Doktofsky is an experienced Long Island probate attorney who will advise you on probate proceedings and estate distribution following the death of a loved one. Call (631) 673-9600 for a free consultation about your probate proceeding questions in New York.