When someone dies in the state of New York, the surrogate's court in her county of residence handles probate. The executor named in the will normally works with the court, or hires an attorney to do so on her behalf.
Filing the Will
The D'Arrigo and Cote legal firm says there's no deadline for the executor to begin probate in New York. However it's best to begin promptly. If an heir or a creditor suffers financially from unreasonable delays, the court can penalize the person responsible.
Announcing the Death
Before probate proceeds any further, the executor must notify the heirs that she's filing her petition. She also must notify anyone who isn't in the will, but would inherit under New York law if the decedent had died without a will.
The notified parties can choose to contest the will. For example, if one of the heirs believes there's a more recent valid will someone is hiding, she can bring the issue before the court.
The Probate Process
Executors can use a simpler probate process if the estate meets New York requirements:
- The decedent didn't own any real estate in his own name.
- There's no wrongful death lawsuit about the decedent's passing.
- The estate is worth less than $30,000.
In the small-estate process, the executor serves as voluntary administrator and distributes the assets to the heirs in only a few months. The filing fee is only $1.
New York state executors and administrators are entitled to a fee for their work. The New York City Bar says the fee starts at 5 percent for an estate of $100,000 or less. The percentage goes down for larger estates: For amounts above $5 million it's 2 percent.