Decedent's Estate & Probate

Decedent's Estate, Probate & Things to Expect

Probate is the process by which a writing that is a last will  is validated by the court.  Typically, a last will is filed with the court for probate where a person who dies owns assets or property in his or her name alone.

New York City decedent's estate lawyers know that preparing an effective estate plan is an important step to facilitate the probate process.   A Will in New York must be signed and witnessed according to the provisions of the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law.  Wills are typically in writing and are signed by the testator at the end and are witnessed by at least two attesting witnesses.  When a Will is prepared by a lawyer and the signing is supervised by an attorney, the law provides certain presumptions as to its validity.  The witnesses customarily sign an affidavit at the signing that the will was properly executed.  This self proving affidavit helps expedite and simplify the probate process,  Probate proceedings can become complicated and subject to contests when a person does not follow the proper Will execution procedure.

Once the probate process is completed the decedent's affairs or his estate can be administered by the Executor appointed by the court in the probate proceeding. Decedent's estates typically involve the collection of assets and the payment of bills and taxes.  The probate process and the administration of the decedent's estate can take many months or years and can involve complex tax, financial and other issues.

In most instances, probating a Will does not involve estate litigation.  The typical situation concerns close family  members such as a spouse and children all of whom cooperate with each to obtain the appointment of the Executor and the distribution of estate assets.

It should be pointed out that a decedent's probate estate is different from his gross estate.  The gross estate, which is used for estate tax purposes, includes assets that are held with others as joint tenant or are payable to designated beneficiaries such as life insurance or retirement funds.  These assets that pass by operation of law are not part of the probate proceeding.

There may be occasions when a person's estate plan indicates that it would be advisable to try and avoid the probate process.  For example, if a person wants to disinherit a distributee such as a child, it is preferable not to subject a Last Will to a possible contest.  In a probate case the decedent's children must be given Court notice of the probate.  However, no notification is required to distribute assets held in a living trust which does not have to go through probate.  Thus, an estate plan might benefit from a living trust whereby all of the persons assets are transferred to the trust during the person's lifetime.  These living trusts are revocable and as the trustee, the creator can remain in full control of the trust until death.

I have many years of experience as a New York City lawyer working with and advising clients regarding probate and the administration of decedents estates.

I graduated in the top 10% of my class at New England School of Law in Boston and served on the prestigious “Law Review.” I have been an attorney at law in my own law practice in New York City since 1985.

You can contact me by phone at (212) 355-2575 or e-mail for a free consultation with a New York City attorney.

Client Reviews
Jules Haas helped me with managing the process in probate court for my father's estate through to its completion upon the sale of my father's house. He was knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in submitting documentation to the probate court, explaining procedures to me, and advising me as to the progress of my case. His support staff was also very helpful. He made what for me created so much anxiety into something manageable where I could see progress every step of the way. His fees were very reasonable. I am super grateful to him for all the help he has provided and strongly recommend his services.
★★★★★
I found Mr. Haas after being misguided by a former attorney. Mr. Jules Haas took our case which involved an estate/trust dispute. What initially seemed like an impossible and overwhelming legal fight was now in the hands of someone who had the integrity and legal expertise to win our case. Mr Haas' attention to detail and his expert knowledge base, skillfully and successfully guided us through an intricate legal process. I am very thankful and grateful to Mr. Jules Haas for representing our interest and ultimately winning. Bringing about a peace of mind we needed. Thank You Devida Nedd
★★★★★
I was in need of a guardianship attorney and I hired the services of Jules M. Haas' Law firm. The service of counselor Haas and his staff, was very profesional and the case was handled in a timely matter. I would strongly recommend his services Angel Guevara
★★★★★
I strongly recommend Jules Haas. I have worked with him for two years and he has provided so much support and followed through with everything he promised he would do. His support staff is just as helpful! We had an interesting case and he helped to solve each part of it legally and was very thorough. Thank you for everything you have done to finalize our families estate Robyn Stafford
★★★★★