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Estate Litigation Lawyer

For anyone who has a cherished family member, the thought of having them pass away at some point is difficult to consider. However, inevitably all of us will face this situation, and there will be many complex issues that suddenly appear. When this happens, it goes without saying emotions may run high among family members and close friends, and it may be difficult to think clearly as to what needs to be done next to ensure the person’s final wishes are properly carried out. While there are numerous details involved with planning a funeral and other related matters, there is also the responsibility of contacting the person’s heirs, distributing the person’s assets, and the often complex matter of paying various creditors. For people who try to go it alone in these tough situations, they quickly realize the importance of proper legal guidance to navigate the many complexities that go along with a person’s demise. Because of this, it’s always best to work with an experienced estate litigation lawyer, such as those at Raiser & Kenniff, PC.

The Probate Process
The process that occurs after a loved one has died, probate is arguably the most complex process of law. Depending on such factors as whether or not the person had a will, the size of the estate, difficulty of locating heirs, and other related issues, the probate process can be completed in a matter of days or weeks, or could go on for months if there are problems locating heirs or if disputes arise between family members. Nevertheless, it’s critical to work with a knowledgeable estate litigation lawyer who has experience dealing with a variety of matters in these cases.

Will or No Will?
Depending on whether a person had a will or not, the probate process can take a variety of turns. For example, if a will was drafted, the estate lawyer will present the will for probate. If no will was left behind, the lawyer will then present the estate for administration. If a will is present, the court will appoint the estate’s executor, who is named in the will, to deal with such tasks as taking the estate’s inventory, distributing assets to certain individuals, and other related matters. If no will exists, the court will appoint what’s known as a personal representative to handle the estate’s affairs, often a relative. In New York, these matters are usually handled by the New York Surrogates Court.

Filing Petitions
No matter the situation surrounding a deceased person’s estate, the estate litigation lawyer will likely be filing a number of different petitions. For example, the probate or administration petition must be filed in a county court where the person resided when he or she died. If a Probate Court does not exist there, the petition must be filed in a nearby county that has been authorized to hold jurisdiction. Once the appropriate petitions are filed and the court is satisfied everything is in order, the court will then give the estate executor or administrator the legal authority to begin distributing assets and paying off debts.

What are Considered Assets?
In probate cases, there are various types of assets that are distributed. In New York, this includes money, vehicles, artwork, and other items. This can be a time-consuming process, and is sometimes met with resistance from various family members. However, if the court has given the executor or administrator legal authority to complete these tasks, there is little anyone else can do to change the outcome. Yet, it is important to remember the New York Surrogates Court focuses only on property located in New York, and is unable to rule on property located in other states.

Consult an Experienced Attorney
With the many variables that can come from probate matters, it’s always smart to consult an experienced attorney regarding any questions you may have. This is especially important if you have been named the executor of an estate, or if you are an heir who has questions or concerns about the distribution of assets. To make sure you understand the process and have peace of mind along the way, contact Raiser & Kenniff, PC to make the probate process as simple as possible.


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