Estate Settlement Services
When a person dies his or her estate may require the probate of a Last Will or the appointment of an Administrator. In any event, estate settlement services are required in order to collect the decedent's assets, pay claims, bills and taxes and make proper distribution of the assets remaining in the estate. The estate fiduciary has a duty and obligation to perform these tasks and may be held personally liable if there is a breach of fiduciary duty.
In the case of the probate of a Will, the first step is to secure the original Will. If the original Will cannot be located and only a copy is available, the probate process becomes more difficult and time consuming. Typically, the person named in the Will as Executor completes a Probate Petition which is filed with the New York Surrogate's Court in the county where the decedent lived. The probate petition contains information regarding the Will such as its date and the names of the attesting witnesses. The petition also requires that information be provided as to the names and addresses of the decedent's next of kin ("distributees") and the estimated value of the personal and real property comprising the estate.
One very important aspect of Estate Settlement may involve the preparation of an Estate Tax Return. A decedent's estate may be subject to Federal and New York State estate taxes. Both the Federal and State tax systems have different exemptions and methods to calculate the amount of tax that may be due. An Estate Tax Return requires that information be reported regarding the decedent's Gross Estate which includes all of the assets the decedent may have had an interest in at the time of his death.
In order to properly prepare an estate tax return, the estate Executor or Administrator must search, locate and determine the value of the assets, debts, liabilities and expenses that are required to be reported on the tax return. A New York Estate Lawyer typically works with the estate fiduciary to accomplish the preparation and filing of the returns. The Estate Attorney can prepare correspondence, contact banks and brokerage firms and other sources to assist with the search and liquidation of assets. Additionally, an estate bank account can be established where the decedent's funds can be deposited and from which bills and distributions can be made.
Various deductions may be used to lower the estate tax liability. Such deductions include the Marital Deduction and Charitable Deduction. Estate administration expenses such as attorney's fees and executor's commissions can also be taken as deductions as well as funeral and burial costs.
I have represented many clients in probate and administration proceedings. I work personally with my clients to provide estate settlement services that make the process of collecting and distributing estate assets go smoothly. Executors, Administrators, estate beneficiaries and family members are all well-served by efficient estate settlement services. I can help you with these matters.
I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1979 and opened my own law office in 1985. For personalized attentive estate settlement services and a free case evaluation you can contact me by telephone: (212) 355-2575, fax: (212) 751-5911 or e-mail