It can be challenging to handle all of the emotions you’re feeling when a loved one passes away. However, these emotions can feel heightened if you find out you’re the executor of the deceased’s estate. Navigating the process can be overwhelming if you’re on your own. If you’re unfamiliar with the process of probate court, you’ll want to keep reading. You’ll learn how the court works and how a Rockland County probate attorney can help.

What Is Probate Court?

Probate court is a branch of the state court that oversees the distribution of a person’s will. In New York and some other states, probate court is often called “surrogate’s court.” This court will ensure the will is valid or, if there is no will, appoint a representative who will help distribute the estate according to state law.

What Can I Expect During the Process?

Generally, if someone has a will that names an executor, the court will point the person after determining the document’s validity. However, if the deceased doesn’t have an estate plan, the state will appoint someone to act as an executor. In New York, one of their heirs will likely be assigned as the executor.

Once an executor is named and a will is authenticated by the court, they can begin the distribution of the deceased’s estate. If they have an estate plan, the executor will distribute the funds and assets according to the wishes stated in the document. With no will, the state has a plan for how the estate is divided between descendants and spouses.

During probate court, you will need to attend two hearings. The first is necessary to authenticate a person’s will and name an executor based on the wishes detailed. Without an estate plan, the state appoints a representative and reviews the intestate succession laws.

The second hearing is typically the last hearing, in which the executor informs the court they have finalized the distribution process, allowing the estate to be deemed legally settled.

Can a Lawyer Help Me?

If you’re struggling to understand your responsibilities or find yourself overwhelmed by the duties, you can reach out to an attorney for assistance. Similarly, they can help you understand which, if any, of the deceased’s assets can avoid the probate process. For example, assets in a living trust are not subject to probate because they are not considered part of a will.

If you need assistance with the probate process, ensuring you have the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial. The Lauterbach Law Firm is ready to take on your probate case to help you navigate the procedure. This allows you more time to grieve the loss you’ve experienced.