Understand the Timeframe of Probate in New York


If you’re wondering whether it takes a long or short time for the probate to last in New York, then you’ll find that the answer is not black and white. In fact, it can take from months to years for the court proceedings of probate to resolve.

And the financial burden rests on the shoulders of family members and beneficiaries at the time of grieving. The good news is that there is more than one way to avoid probate in New York. But each approach requires you to take immediate action before the involved individual passes away.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not just reserved for wealthy individuals. In fact, it applies to anyone with valuable assets like property and offers support to the family. Emotionally, estate planning can take a toll but it is imperative to be objective and avoid confusion.

In all fairness, when someone you love dies, you may have to take care of their affairs and as well as distribute estate assets. Usually, this process takes a good chunk of time and families often wonder about the timeframe to complete probate matters.

Let’s dive into the probate process, how long it can last in New York, and its other crucial elements:

What Makes up the Modern Probate Process?

Probate refers to a legal process to resolve the affairs of a deceased individual. The probate process involves collecting relevant assets, distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries or heirs, and taking care of the debts and expenses of the deceased person.

The initiation of a probate process requires hiring an administrator or executor for the estate. After that, the administrator or executor of the estate becomes responsible to take care of the estate matters and make the probate process as efficient as possible.

Also, the selected estate administrator or executor is usually someone the deceased nominates in their legal will to deal with estate affairs. But nomination from the deceased is not enough – the court also has to appoint the person to make it official. At any point, the estate beneficiary has the right to challenge the appointment of an estate administrator or authenticity of a will.

After the unchallenged appointment of an administrator, that person gets the complete legal authority to handle estate matters on behalf of the deceased. In most cases, the executor starts the probate process by settling estate tasks such as:

  • Locating all the assets of the deceased
  • Collecting and protecting all the assets of the deceased
  • Taking care of unpaid expenses and debts
  • Covering estate taxes
  • Selling or liquidating assets that are not part of the deceased will
  • Transferring title of asset ownership

The most important aspect of the probate process is to close the estate. Typically, it involves preparing the estate’s balance sheet and financial accounting. The next step for the chosen estate administrator is to make sure the beneficiaries and heirs sign off on the finalized accounting and then get court approval. After the approval of finalized accounting, remaining assets or funds are distributed among heirs or beneficiaries stated in the will.

Not Sharing Your Plans

It might make sense to keep your estate plan secret but you should talk it out with your attorney. In most cases, not telling or discussing an estate plan to anyone creates problems for family members. So, let your close friends and family members know about the distribution of your assets and personal health. It is the best way to prevent a series of misunderstandings and emotional turmoil.

What Does it Take to Avoid the Probate Process in Queens, NY?

It takes great estate planning to unburden loved ones from having to go through a complicated probate process. Whether it’s collection or distribution of assets, it takes time and grieving families often hand out these responsibilities to someone else.

Besides, in the digital era, there are many estate planning solutions and tools to find, organize, manage, and close estate matters.  The most common approach to avoid the probate process in NY requires establishing an independent trust in order to hold the assets of the deceased. After that, a trustee can manage the estate matters in the best interests of the heirs or beneficiaries.

Probate Time Limit in New York

When you keep an open line of discussion with your attorney about your estate plan, it allows you to make suitable adjustments over time easily. Also, not having a contingency plan is a common mistake in estate planning. But like updates, your attorney will recommend you to put in place a contingency plan for the sake of your beneficiaries.

On average, the most estate gets probated within a year. But different estate factors can stretch out the probate process and take more time. In Queens, NY alone, each estate comes with its own set of challenges that determines the timeline.

So, right from the start, it can be challenging to establish a precise timeframe. In fact, there are some situations where the probate process can take up to 3 years to resolve. On the other hand, the probate process is also often complete within a few months.

The main factors that can extend the timeframe of the probate process involve:

  • Actions by heirs and beneficiaries to disqualify an administrator or executor
  • Claims from creditors against the deceased estate
  • Difficulty to locate and collect assets
  • Substantial or complex estate assets
  • Total accounting costs
  • Multiple will contests

The probate process involves three crucial stages and the average length of these phases in NY includes:

Around 4-6 months to appoint an executor or administrator of the estate.

Around 6-9 months to settle the estate affairs.

Around 2-3 months to close the estate.

What about Creditors?

After a judge issues an official letter to an administrator, creditors of the estate have to file a proper claim no later than 7 months from that date. So, if a creditor fails to file a legal claim within 7 months, the administrator won’t be liable for the late claims of the creditor.

When Probate Becomes Inevitable in NY

When someone leaves their assets through an estate in the event of his or her death, an administrator or executor has to perform the probate process. Under NY law, probate, however, is not mandatory for small estates with assets less than $50,000.

When it comes to small estates, it becomes the responsibility of the court to appoint an administrator selected by the deceased. But the court can also appoint an heir or beneficiary of the deceased when there is no will. In this case, the heir or beneficiary performs the duties of an administrator.

Final Thoughts

We offer skilled and thorough guidance that makes the entire probate process highly efficient for the family. You can count on our trusted and experienced team of estate and probate lawyers to meet your high expectations and help you out at every step of the way. We offer no-obligation and free case evaluation that allows clients to review their options and rights.

Our legal representation assists families and individuals in Queens, NY at a competitive rate. We can help you answer complex questions about the probate process and how long it can last in New York. If you want professional help with your probate in Queens NY, don’t hesitate to reach out now.