When someone dies in New York, the probate process determines how their estate should be divided while ensuring creditors get paid. If a will named you as executor, your job is to oversee the estate throughout that complex process.
While hiring a lawyer isn’t legally required, it is extremely helpful to have a professional with estate planning experience to guide you. It may also cost you far less than you expect.
When a New York Probate Attorney Is Most Helpful to Estate Executors
Probate is a time-consuming operation that frequently includes complicated legal issues. It can be extremely easy to get overwhelmed if you have no previous experience serving as an executor.
From help with filing paperwork to providing advice on how to follow the will’s instructions, a lawyer can take the stress and the guesswork out of the equation. You should especially consider the assistance of an experienced probate lawyer if:
- Assets are owned in multiple states.
- Business assets are included in the estate.
- Disputes are likely from direct heirs or beneficiaries named in the will.
- The estate is large enough to require paying estate taxes.
- There aren’t enough funds in the estate to pay creditors and still provide for beneficiaries.
That last point may seem odd, as you’d expect smaller estates to require less legal knowledge, but that isn’t actually the case. In instances where there isn’t enough money to cover all of the deceased’s debts, there are legal requirements for which creditors must be paid first. You will likely need an attorney to navigate strict probate rules in that case.
There’s another solid reason why an attorney can be a better investment than you may realize. Being named executor doesn’t make you personally liable for costs in handling the estate. The state of New York allows executors to pay reasonable legal fees from the estate you are overseeing, rather than using your own funds. Depending on the specifics of the estate, that means it may potentially cost you nothing to get legal help covering your executor duties.
Protect Yourself and Honor Your Loved One’s Wishes During Probate
Have you been named the executor of an estate in New York? Contact Alatsas Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. We can help you determine if you need an attorney to complete the probate process.