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Probate is the process of administering the provisions of the deceased person's Will.

It requires the filing of the original Will, an original death certificate and a Petition asking the court to approve the Will and appoint the person named in the Will as the Executor of the estate.  The Petitioner is usually, but not always, the proposed Executor.  The Petition and accompanying papers are filed with the Surrogates's Court in the county where the deceased lived.  At this time the deceased's family members are notified that the deceased had a Will and that someone is petitioning the court to have an Executor appointed.

Once the Executor is appointed, he or she receives authorization from the court to act in the form of Letters Testamentary.  The Letters Testamentary authorize the Executor to gather the deceased's assets into the estate, pay debts, file taxes, handle remaining business affairs, sell property, and eventually distribute assets according to the provisions of the Will.

Intestacy - If the deceased had no Will

Some people are under the misconception that if someone had no Will when he or she died, the person's assets go to the state.  

The laws of intestacy direct that the deceased's assets go to family members, determined by closeness of blood.  

A family member will have to petition the Surrogate's Court in the county where the deceased resided to be appointed the estate representative, called the Administrator.  Once the Surrogate's Court approves the petition and issues Letters of Administration, the Administrator will have the authority to marshal the deceased's assets, pay bills and taxes, sell property and eventually distribute the assets of the estate to the blood relatives, according to the controlling laws governing intestacy.

The Law Office of Emily Ann Klotz, PLLC assists the representative of the estate, either the Executor or the Administrator, with probate, trust administration and estate administration matters including: filing the Will; petitioning the Surrogate's Court for appointment; obtaining Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration; liquidating and distributing assets; preparing inventories and accountings.

Post-death issues may include Will contests, valuation or accounting disputes, actions against the representative of the estate for breach of fiduciary duty.

If you have been named in as Executor in a Will or if a family member has recently died, contact us to determine what steps you can and should take to resolve the estate.

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Probate and Estate Administration: Practice Areas
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