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It is prudent for people who own property or assets to draft a will while they are of sound mind and body. This will determine how their estate will be distributed upon their death. When a person who dies has a will, the will must proceed through the probate process. While probate proceedings may be relatively seamless, the deceased person’s family members sometimes may contest the validity of the will, resulting in protracted litigation. If you recently suffered the loss of a loved one and need to contest their will, or fight a will contest, you should engage a knowledgeable New York probate lawyer to guide you through the process. Attorney Valerie S. Wolfman has been assisting New York residents in probate matters for decades. Ms. Wolfman’s office is in Manhattan, and she assists individuals in probate matters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Westchester, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties.
There are specific procedures that must be followed to probate a will in New York. Probate is the term for the process of proving the validity of a will. If a will is not probated, no one has the authority to act on the will or distribute the deceased person’s estate. In the probate process, the deceased person is known as the decedent. To begin the probate process, the decedent’s will must be filed in Surrogate’s Court in the county in which the decedent resided prior to his or her death, along with a copy of the decedent’s death certificate and a petition for probate. Typically, the will is filed by the person named as the executor of the estate in the will.
The decedent’s heirs must be listed in the probate petition and must be served with a citation that advises them that the executor filed a petition for authority to manage the decedent’s estate. The heirs can either waive the right to contest the appointment of the executor or contest the appointment at a hearing. If they choose to contest it, they should hire a probate attorney in New York to represent them. Any beneficiaries of the estate must be given notice of the probate proceeding as well. If no one objects to the admission of the will to probate, the court will typically grant Letters Testamentary to the executor, which allow the executor to oversee the distribution of the estate and execute the directives set forth in the will.
The loss of a loved one can cause heartache and discord, and it is not uncommon for one or more people to contest a will. Any person whose interest in the estate would be adversely affected by the admission of the will to probate may object to the will in its entirety or portions of the will. Typically, a person contesting a will sets forth arguments that the will is invalid for some reason. For example, in cases in which a will was not executed properly, or there are concerns as to whether the deceased person was under duress at the time of the signing of the will or was in poor mental health, the will may be contested. You should make sure to retain a New York probate attorney at this stage of the process. If a will is contested, it can lead to lengthy litigation, resulting in a substantial delay in the distribution of assets. However, a successful will contest can make a huge difference to the way in which the decedent’s assets are allocated.
While distributing the property and assets of a deceased person is easier when he or she had a will, probating a will can still be confusing and contentious, and a seasoned attorney should handle the process. Valerie S. Wolfman is a knowledgeable probate attorney who can assist you in probating the will of your deceased loved one and in dealing with any disputes over the validity of the will. Ms. Wolfman represents clients in New York City and on Long Island, as well as in Westchester County. Our office can be contacted at (646) 293-4704 or through the online form to schedule a confidential meeting with a probate lawyer in New York.