Estate Administration Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to probate my relative's Will?
The Will is required to be probated only when the decedent died possessing assets valued at $50,000 or greater or if the decedent died leaving Real Property. This does not include assets for which there are designated beneficiaries (e.g., joint accounts, “in-trust-for” accounts or insurance proceeds not payable to the estate).
Do I need an Attorney to handle my probate matter?
You are not required to hire an attorney to take care of a probate proceeding on your behalf. If you feel comfortable doing so, you may handle a simple probate yourself. However, many probate matters are challenging and you would be better served by having an experienced probate attorney handle your case. Some complications that may arise include difficulty in locating interested parties for jurisdictional purposes, defects in the language of the Will and the potential for someone contesting the Will.
What if my relative died with assets but did not have a will?
If your loved one died without a will (intestate) and there were assets the estate will still need to be administrated. The procedure is referred to as administration by the Surrogate's Court. Under an administration the estate is distributed under rules of succession. See NYS EPTL § 4-1.1
How long does probate take?
A simple probate may take a few weeks depending upon the Surrogate Court Schedule. With more complex matters probate can be a lengthy process. Testa Law Firm will make sure that the process is completed as quickly as possible.
How much does probate cost?
Generally the cost of Probate in New York State is between 2.5% to 10% of the total value of the gross estate. The main probate costs are the executor's commission and attorney fees.
Does an executor get paid?
Executing an estate can often be a very time consuming process, the Executor is entitled to a commission as compensation for their time and efforts. An Executor commission is set by New York law. See SCP § 2307. Commissions range from 2-5% depending on the size of the Estate.
New York probate attorney fees are normally the same as the executor's commission set by New York law, described above, but may vary based on the complexity of each case.
- Testa Law Firm offers multiple fee arrangements depending on the complexity of the estate including Flat Fees, percentage based fees, hourly billing or contingent fees. Your case will be evaluated during your free initial consultation and Testa Law Firm will work with you to set the best fee arrangement for your situation.
- * Flat fee arrangements are reserved for straightforward matters in which the services required can be clearly delineated. If legal work is required that goes beyond what has been agreed upon, the additional services are normally charged at hourly rates. Any work that may go above and beyond a flat fee arrangement will be discussed prior to incurring additional charges.
Are there court costs?
Court filing fees range from $215 to $1,250, depending on the gross value of the estate. Other court costs (such as hiring a process server, purchasing a bond, publication fees, etc.) may cost additional hundreds, or even thousands of dollars.
The probate process includes filing all final income tax returns and possibly estate income tax returns. Tax preparation fees range from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the return.
Professional appraisals are needed when an estate tax return is required or when the heirs or creditors disagree as to the value of the estate assets. Appraisal fees vary widely depending on the type of property.