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Leaders in Domestic & International Estate Planning.
We are a probate law firm based in Kings County, New York with lots of experience with opening estates, intestate estates, handling small estates, will contests, probating wills, beneficiary claims, and probate support for individuals and businesses.
Our success as a firm is based entirely on our capability to help clients meet their legal and business aims on a cost-effective and timely basis. You might come in with complex issues, but the mission we have is simple and straightforward – giving you practical advice and solutions.
Get in touch with our office to set up a meeting with the best probate lawyer Kings County has to offer or use the contact form on this page to understand what we do and whether the services we offer are ideal for your needs. We look forward to your communication regarding your case.
Understanding Kings County Probate
Probate refers to a court procedure that aims at settling the estate of a deceased person that left behind the property. It is the process of proving a will by a probate judge, or if the decedent doesn’t have a will, it is the process of administering an estate.
For the process to begin, the court needs to appoint an executor for the estate if one hasn’t already been appointed in the will. The probate process is unknown to many people, so many executors approach it with a lot of fear.
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Studies show that 50 percent of Americans believe that having a basic will protects their estate from probate court after they pass away.
The Probate Estate
This refers to the value of the property that passes to the beneficiaries by terms set out in the will, or if there is no will present, as per the law in Kings County.
Assets that are included in the probate estate also form a part of the taxable estate, but there are assets in the taxable estate that aren’t included in the probate estate. For instance, if the testator owned life insurance policy at the time of death, then the proceeds of this policy are part of the taxable estate, but won’t form part of the probate estate.
Probate Steps If a Will Exists
When a person dies and leaves a will behind, it is said he died “testate.” First, the original will must be located. Usually, this is stored in a safe deposit box owned by the testator. It can also be with the family members, an advisor, a lawyer, or the bank.
We have watched movies where the families gather around a table after the death of a loved one for the will to be read out. This only happens in movies and novels, in real life, you get a copy of the will in your mail, that’s if you are an interested party.
When the original will is found, the appointed executor takes it to the clerk’s office in Kings County for it to be admitted to probate. Only do this if the decedent lived in the county by the time he passed away. If the decedent still owned a home that he lived in immediately, he passed away, then the county where the home is located should be regarded as the official residence.
After the will is admitted to probate, the clerk can go ahead to “qualify” the personal representative. In this case, qualification is the swearing-in of the person for him to perform their duty responsibly and faithfully. The personal representative then signs a bond to commit himself to be responsible for any losses.
A will that has been prepared by a probate lawyer in Kings County eliminates the need for a bond. The probate attorney will include a provision stating that the need for a surety is dispensed with to the extent allowed by the law in Kings County.v
Steps if No will Exists
Should the Personal Representative work with a Queens County Probate Lawyer?
Inexperienced executors usually wonder what to do when faced with a task that they know nothing about. When this happens, many usually wonder if they need the assistance of a lawyer to handle the situation.
While personnel at the clerk’s offices are usually experienced and proficient at probating estates, they might not be able to give you legal advice that can help with the case. Estates with complications require a probate lawyer to be present. To begin the process of getting a lawyer, search for a “Queens County probate lawyer near me” in local legal directories.
What Do We Deal with?
We handle anything and everything probate – from the moment you decide to write a will to the time your estate passes on to your children. Here are our practice areas.
Whether the decedent had a will or didn’t have one, we assist the executor or the heirs in navigating the different issues that touch on opening the estate, coming up with the relevant documents administering the assets left behind, selling property, or any other issue that relates to probate administration.
Here is a rundown of what we do:
Intestate Probate Administration
This is where there is no will to guide the estate’s distribution, but there is an estate to be administered. When there is no will, you need to file a petition for letters of administration. The petition contains the name of the decedent, the day they passed on, the place of death, and the names of any surviving spouse (if any) and the next of kin.
After you file a petition, the probate court will admit that the letters of administration anytime after five days have elapsed after the decedent’s death.
This is when there are a will and the last testament to work with. When a person passes on and leaves a will behind, the probate process is easier because all a personal representative has to do to obtain a grant of probate that directs on how the property is to be shared among beneficiaries.
An insolvent estate refers to a state where the decedent’s debts are far greater than the value of the estate left behind. This means that the estate assets aren’t enough t pay off the funeral expenses and debts left behind.
It is vital that you establish whether the estate is solvent or insolvent. However, the process of establishing this is not always simple. As an executor, you don’t play any role in determining how the debts are discharged; rather, the state has an order regarding how they are to be handled.
The Kings County probate lawyer helps you with any matters that relate to the estates in the probate, whether solvent or insolvent.
Complications That Can Arise During the Probate Process
We usually come in when you have any complications that might hinder a successful probate process.
Having an Incomplete Plan
What happens when you need to oversee the distribution of a decedent’s estate, but there is no will present? What if there is a will, but it hasn’t been updated in many years?
Minus a will, Kings County has specific rules that need to be followed regarding the assets that are passed down, and who is to receive them after the owner passes away. Additionally, New York has rules that determine the appointment of fiduciaries.
If you are worried that your estate plan is incomplete, you have good news. The incomplete plan can easily be fixed with a few changes to the plan. Schedule a meeting with a probate lawyer Queens County today to help you update the will.
Unexpected Creditors Come Into the Picture
When the probate process begins, you need to be ready for some known creditors. However, don’t be surprised when unexpected creditors come to the forefront demanding payment for goods delivered, services offered, or loan payments that are pending.
Dealing with creditors can take a lot of time and money, the reason why you need to have a probate lawyer by your side to advise you on how to handle creditors when they come calling.
Maybe the decedent had a will, but it doesn’t look authentic to the loved ones or beneficiaries. Additionally, there might be a beneficiary that is unhappy with the distribution and thinks they have been treated unfairly. In this case, the will is taken to the probate court to be challenged.
When a will is contested, this not only challenges the arrangement of the entire distribution of the will but also turns an otherwise short process into a long, tedious one fraught with complications. An executor might not be able to continue with their duties while the will is under the probate court.
The process of contesting a will is not as easy as you might think. Here are steps that we take to help you contest a will successfully:
- Talk to us. The first step in contesting a will is to talk to a Kings County probate lawyer specializing in this area. The aim of talking to us is to confirm that you have a case. Some grounds of contesting the will might not be feasible.
- Here, you give us a copy of the will that lists the estate’s assets and liabilities. The information needs to show the contents of the estate, how much it is worth, and whether there are any debts or not. You also need to tell us whether probate has been granted or not. The investigation process aims to confirm further whether you have a case or not.
- Take a written statement. This is the moment we work together to obtain an affidavit. The affidavit outlines your relationship to the decedent, any dependents you have, your health, and your financial position.
- Lodge a caveat. Once we validate your claim, the next step is to submit a formal claim to the probate court. This is called a “caveat.” Lodging this claim simply means that the formal probate process cannot be started – and therefore, the assets cannot be distributed as was earlier planned – without first resolving the case that we have lodged against the estate. This claim lasts for six months, though it can be renewed as necessary.
- Pursue court action (or mediation). A dispute on the will can usually be easily resolved through mediation or another form of dispute resolution. If an agreement can’t be reached during the caveat stage, then the contest goes to court.
How do we Come in?
If you are a relative or a friend to the decedent, or a direct beneficiary, then you are in line to deal with a contest brought against the will. It is vital that you have a deep understanding of the will contest and get legal assistance from us as soon as possible.
Normally, it is ideal that you reach an out-of-court agreement to avoid the high legal fees that come with probate. If the will goes to court and is determined to be invalid, the court might discredit part of it or the entire will.
The probate court might decide to refer to an earlier will to validate the current one. If there is no will to refer to, the court might decide to distribute the assets under the New York intestacy laws.
Regardless of the situation you find yourself in; whether you are looking to contest a will or handle a contested will, we are here to give you reliable legal support and probate advice. Contact us today for more information.
Challenging the Appointment of the Personal Representative
The role of a personal representative is a vital one during the probate process. They are tasked with transferring the decedent’s assets to the heirs as per the instructions set in the will (testate) or as per court orders (intestate).
While the decedent has the rights to name a personal representative of their choice, the court can rule otherwise, and the interested parties have a right to challenge the designation in court.
While it is possible to challenge a personal representative’s appointment because they aren’t qualified for the role, the underlying challenge must be valid and not based wholly on dislike for the person. You also have just three months to challenge this role. You need to contact a probate lawyer in Kings County earlier on – usually as soon as you decide to challenge the appointment.
We have decades of experience representing clients in Kings County in these matters. Call us today for a free consultation.
Handling the Probate Process Alone
You might think that since you have all the time in the world, you can take on the probate process alone – the wrong notion. Well, the probate process involves a lot of phases as well as deadlines. Since you are dealing with a legal process that is handled by a court of law, you need to make sure the deadlines are met.
The bulk of the process falls upon the shoulders of the personal representative, and handling the job on your own might cause a lot of stress.
If you find yourself tasked with a lot of probate issues, you need to reach out to is. It is normal to ask for legal help to build an able team that can handle the probate issues on time.
What to Expect when You Talk to a Probate Lawyer in Queens County
The moment you decide to bring your issue to the table so that we can help you out, you are safe. We can assist you to go through the probate process smoothly.
To get the most out of our first meeting with you, here are some ideas about what to expect and what to bring along with you.
To understand why we require you to be specific with what you carry, it is clear that probate involves assessing the value of the estate and paying off any debts and taxes before distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries. Come with the following to the initial consultation:
- The last will, if one exists.
- Documents regarding any estate planning tools that the decedent established.
- An official copy of the death certificate.
- Documents detailing the decedent’s financial transactions, including insurance policies, deeds, and retirement account statements.
- Documents that are related to the financial obligations of the decedent.
What to Expect During the First Meeting
Questions Regarding The Estate
Be prepared to answer some questions about the decedent’s estate. Some of the questions will be sensitive but need concise answers. You will have to answer questions that touch on marital relationships, finances, family, and more.
The Opportunity to Ask Question
While we shall ask you various questions and expect concise answers from you, we also expect you to ask as many questions as possible. The questions you ask need to focus on the matter at hand, and probate at large. Before you come for the first meeting, try and think ahead about what you want to ask and write them down so that you don’t forget any question.
When you are ready to come for the first meeting and learn about the options you have in settling the estate, turn to us. We provide thoughtful yet comprehensive approaches to our client’s probate needs, and we boast of providing each of our clients and their families the vest solutions for them.
While it means that we provide tailored solutions at every step of the way, it also means that our clients can fully rely on us to provide high-quality services at an affordable rate.
Why Choose Us?
With the many law firms around, you might be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting one over the other. Our law firm is specialized in assisting families and any other party in making appointments with the probate court.
We assist you in navigating the probate process in Kings County, helping you settle any debts incurred by your loved one and provide you with the right advice needed when distributing an estate to your beneficiaries.
Our practice stands out over others because of the following reasons.
We Ensure Maximum Efficiency of the Process
We step in as required to ensure that your case is free from unnecessary delays. The probate process is known for being slow and complicated. With our help, this ceases to be the case.
We possess many years of experience navigating the probate system. This means that we can easily streamline the process, minimizing the time required to complete it.
We first give you a review of the entire procedure, then guide you through preparing the necessary documents for filing. We work with your personal representative to minimize the headache associated with making the required filings.
We may also assist in contacting the heirs and facilitating the faster resolution of the decedent’s estate. Our reputation in getting things right the first time we try minimizes the time you need to spend at the probate court.
We are Experts at Mediation
The many years we have been in practice have allowed us to witness all manner of family conflicts. These usually arise after a loved one passes away, leaving behind several assets and personal belongings.
These conflicts are more common when a person dies without a will or when some family members fail to be mentioned among the estate’s beneficiaries. We have a specialized team of lawyers who can help resolve these conflicts without creating more uncertainties around the will.
Although some of these conflicts are avoidable, others must be handled accordingly before they tear the family apart. We possess all the skills required to manage any heightened emotions that may arise during the probate period. We are well versed in the tactics required to settle such disputes while meeting the interests of the involved parties.
We are Good Communicators
Over the years, we have always found ourselves offering counselling services to family members who can’t seem to agree on inheritance matters. A good example is when a parent leaves his business to two siblings, and one of them is not interested in being part of the business.
In such disagreements, we provide the involved parties with a list of available options that can benefit everyone. In the case where businesses are involved, we may advise one party to buy the shares of the other to ensure business continuity.
We spend time taking our clients through testate and intestate probate laws to ensure that they understand what implications their disagreement can have on the inheritance.
Part of our work also involves communicating with beneficiaries and their attorneys. We do this in a way that does not trigger any conflict and ensures efficient administration of a decedent’s estate.
We are the Best in Terms of Court Representation
When a loved one leaves behind a will, the inheritance process becomes more straightforward and non-controversial. However, this is not a guarantee. There are cases where contests arise, and the decedent’s family members are forced to seek the court’s intervention.
Our law firm is specialized in handling specialized court contests associated with the inheritance of property. We assist you in meeting court deadlines and collecting the necessary evidence for such contests. We patiently walk you through the entire process to ensure that you abide by the probate court’s guidelines.
We are Good at Handling Technical Issues.
We help you understand every technical detail associated with probate. Most beneficiaries experience challenges with the probate process because they do not take time to go through the technical issues of their case. This is no surprise, and sometimes the executor may fail to bring this to your attention.
Our experienced lawyers help you establish details of a decedent’s will and trusts if they are present. We provide you with technical solutions that save you money and protect you from making errors in the process.
Before initiating the probate process, we facilitate a keen sorting of your loved one’s assets to determine those that need to go through probate and those that should be settled outside court.
We are Familiar with Handling Tax Issues
We have a team of advisors that can help you resolve any pending tax issues with your inherited assets. Tax does not apply to all estates. Where tax applies, we provide you with the right strategies to navigate any claims by taxing authorities.
For large estates, we work with you to establish the right inheritance structures in advance. We provide you with ways you can use to shield your assets from tax levies. We also assist you in preparing the necessary paperwork for these assets that you can use to defend them before taxing authorities. Doing this requires great skill, and we are always up to the task.
We are Professionals in Handling Kings County Probate Claims
Some people die debt-free. However, you may be faced with a tough time if a loved one leaves their assets to you, yet they have many creditors. The probate court always instructs you to settle such debts from the proceeds of the estate.
We help you come up with favourable terms of repaying these debts. We are knowledgeable about this issue and understand how creditors can make your life difficult through filing claims against your estate. We are always glad to act as a go-between the creditor and your personal representative to negotiate these claims.
Our experience in such matters helps us take the right steps needed to shield your assets from creditors’ collection.
Hiring us has so much benefit to the administration of your estate. Even if you had a good relationship with the decedent, you could highly benefit from our counsel and advice when it comes to handling probate matters.
Frequently Asked Questions
A will that has been admitted to probate can be contested by anyone interested in the estate. This can be an heir or anyone financially dependent on the decedent or someone who was promised something by the decedent when he was still alive or a person who believes the decedent didn’t have testamentary capacity coming up with a will. There is no requirement that a person who contests the will ought to be a member of the family.
Yes, you can. As an executor, you are fully liable to any beneficiaries who don’t get their fair share of the estate due to your mistakes. Any creditors who also don’t get paid due to your mistakes can also sue you unless the estate is insolvent. The liability that you carry as an executor is extensive, making it advisable to work with a probate lawyer in all circumstances.
Probably not. The competent probate lawyer Kings County will attend the hearings on your behalf. At times, you don’t even have to appear in the court personally.
As an executor, you are entitled to a reasonable fee for your services. The amount you get paid might not be based on a percentage of the estate’s value, rather it is something you agree on, approved by the court. To determine whether this fee is reasonable, the probate court in Kings County looks at the worth of the estate. These complexities determine the administration and the skills required to handle the estate.
Yes. The moment the will is probated, you have 60 days to send a copy of the will along with a notice showing when and where the will was entered into probate to the spouse, devisees, next of kin, heirs, creditors and any entitled person.