When people in New York write a will to distribute their property after they pass away, the court system administers probate to settle the estate. There are many factors that can affect the costs as well as the time taken up by probate, and these can vary based on the size and complexity of the estate.
How probate works
Probating the estate is meant to distribute the assets remaining in accordance with the last will and testament of the deceased. When someone dies without a will, the process is generally referred to as administration, rather than probate. The process includes the identification and appointment of the executor of the estate, an inventory of assets, payment for outstanding bills and, finally, the distribution and closure of the estate. While this process may routinely take around 6 months to a year, that can be extended if there is a dispute about the validity of the will or the choice of executor.
Anticipating the costs of probate
In general, probate costs are approximately 3 to 8% of the value of the estate. In New York, total estates below $30,000 do not need to go through the probate process and instead enter a special process for small estates. For greater sums, however, the full court-administered probate process is used. Costs can include the following:
- Court costs and fees
- Attorney fees
- Accountancy and other expert fees
- Executor fees
- Estate administration fees and property costs
The costs and time associated with probate lead many to look for alternatives. Many types of trusts provide for transfer outside of probate, as do payment-on-death and transfer-on-death accounts and real estate held through a tenancy in common. These options may provide savings to surviving loved ones and can be considered while making an estate plan.