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Will Probate
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NYS Bar Association
Rockland County Bar Association



Assuming an individual had an effective will in place before their passing, this document would control how the estate would run and whom is designated as executor to ensure the decedent’s wishes are followed. Our firm cannot express how important it is that proper procedure is implemented when drafting and executing a will, as the document can be challenged for as little as a staple being removed. It is a very common misconception that a will can simply be written on a piece of paper and signed by an individual. Formal language must be used, witnesses must attend the execution and the execution must be supervised, among many other strict and unforgiving procedural formalities.  



Probate Proceeding


After death, the will must then be filed in Surrogate's Court and admitted for probate. Probate is the process of proving the Will is valid. If the Decedent had less than $30,000 of personal property a small estate, also called a voluntary administration proceeding, may be filed which can very often be a simpler, quicker, and a less expensive option.After the will has been ruled valid by the Court, the executor has the authority to follow the will’s guidelines and move assets, sell property, distribute money, etc. The Surrogate’s Court will oversee this process. 


Will Contest 


The decedent's distributees (heirs) and beneficiaries must be listed in the probate petition. Distributees/beneficiaries must also be served with a citation which places them on notice that the executor filed for the authority to manage the decedent's estate. The distributees/beneficiaries can sign a waiver and consent to the appointment of the executor or come to court to challenge the appointment and/or will. There are several reasons why a will may be challenged: (1) fraudulent signatures, (2) un-do influence, (3) disagreement as to potential beneficiaries or who is appointed as executor, (4) inheritances, (5) disinheritances, (6) errors, etc. These proceedings can be extremely contentious and can involve protracted litigation; but it doesn’t have to. We make every best effort to make the process for all involved and where possible. We understand that often times, complex family dynamics exist. 


As probate proceedings are complex, it is strongly advised that you have an experienced law firm represent you. Ever more important, you want to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are followed, or, in the alternative, the fraudulent will is made void. Our firm understands how difficult these proceedings can be for families so we make every effort to defend you position in the most effective manner possible. Whether you are defending or attacking the validity of a will, we have several tools at our disposal to fight for you. With our vast experience with these matters, we will be your sword & shield! 


Letters of Administration


When a decedent (the person who passed) did not have a will, the proceeding is called an administration proceeding. Administration is the process where the Surrogate's Court issues Letters of Administration to a qualified party. If the Decedent had less than $30,000 of personal property a small estate, also called a voluntary administration proceeding, can be filed.In general, the person who is the closest distributee (heir) to the decedent tends to file for administration (but this is not a requirement). This must be done by a formal petition to the Surrogate’s Court along with other items. Letters of Administration appoints a party and gives them the authority to collect and distribute the decedent's property according to thelaw. If the decedent's only asset is real property (real estate), it may not be necessary to file an administration proceeding depending on who survives the decedent. By law, real property sometimes vests in the decedent's distributee at the time of death which makes the distributees the owners of the property. It depends on the terms of the deed. 


Like a probate proceeding, the decedent’s distributees must be placed on notice and given an opportunity to either consent or oppose the petition for letters of administration. Most petitions are opposed due to disagreements as to who should be designated the administrator of the estate. Similar to a will contest, whether you wish to defend the petition or invalidate the petition, our firm can stand in for you immediately. 


Should you require the services of an experienced Surrogate’s Court attorney, look no further. Upon calling, you will immediately be scheduled for a consultation with Attorney Fried who will personally discuss the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. Consultations are always FREE and our rates remain competitive. We look forward being your trusted advocates and getting you the results you seek!

"Mr. Fried and his staff were impeccably professional and knowledgeable. They were patient and answered all of my questions, and I received prompt responses to all calls and emails. I also appreciate how well they explained the legal proceedings of my case to me. Thanks to their efforts, my case was resolved with a favorable outcome. Overall, I am very pleased with the quality of service I've received and would absolutely recommend this firm."

—  Y. Chun


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