Probate refers to the process before a Surrogate’s Court judge, where a Last Will and Testament is admitted, an executor is appointed, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. This process takes place in the county where a decedent resided at the time of his or her death. Under New York State law, a nominated executor must file a petition for probate, along with a decedent’s Last Will and Testament, and must provide notice to the decedent’s heirs; otherwise, a decedent’s Last Will and Testament will not be admitted to probate. The reason for this process is to provide distributees the opportunity to contest a decedent’s Will.
However, oftentimes, a Will contest will delay this process and result in expensive litigation. In this instance, it may be beneficial to ask the court to issue Preliminary Letters Testamentary, which is initiated by the nominated executor and grants him or her essentially the same rights and authority of a permanent executor. However, under section 1412 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA), he or she cannot distribute estate assets to the beneficiaries or bequeath assets without consent but can pay taxes, debts, and other expenses such as attorney fees and administrative costs. The appointment of a preliminary executor prevents an estate from being neglected, while any delays in probate occur.
While there can be many reasons for a delay in the probate process, it may be necessary to petition the court for the appointment of a preliminary executor in order to oversee and maintain a decedent’s estate. The failure to do so could be detrimental to the estate. It is worth noting that a court has the discretion to deny a petitioner’s request for Preliminary Letters Testamentary. For this reason, it important to speak with a knowledgeable estate attorney to assist with this process in the event that there is a delay in probate.
If you or a loved one is experiencing a delay in the probate process, it is imperative to seek the consultation of an estate attorney. From the simple to complex, the attorneys at Blodnick, Fazio & Associates PC are skilled in all aspects of estate planning and are dedicated to representing their clients with diligence and compassion. With an office conveniently located in Garden City, Nassau County, the firm is dedicated to providing high-quality legal representation at reasonable costs. Contact our Long Island estate planning lawyers at (516) 280-7105 to arrange a free consultation.