Probate is a Surrogate’s Court proceeding whereby a decedent’s Last Will and Testament is given effect. Under New York State Law, a Will is admitted to probate after the nominated Executor files a Petition for Probate with the decedent’s Will attached and gives proper notice to the individual’s that
Delaying ProbateThere are instances where the probate of the Will is delayed. This delay can be caused by a number of circumstances, including a contested Will proceeding which may result in Surrogate's Court litigation lasting many months or even years. In these cases, it is generally advisable to petition the Surrogate's Court for Preliminary Letters Testamentary.
Preliminary Letters TestamentaryA petition for Preliminary Letters Testamentary is commenced by the nominated Executor under the Will at the same time a Petition for Letters Testamentary is commenced. It is important to note that the Surrogate's Court may deny Preliminary Letter to the petitioner. Also, Preliminary Letters Testamentary are no longer valid once full Letters Testamentary are issued.
Preliminary ExecutorPreliminary Letters Testamentary grant the nominated Executor named in the Will substantially all the rights and authority that a full Executor has, with the notable exception of the right of the Preliminary Executor to distribute the assets of the Estate to the beneficiaries. A Preliminary Executor has the authority to collect the decedent's assets, file and pay estate and income taxes, pay the debts of the decedent and sell real property that was not specifically bequeathed.
ConclusionEvery estate is different and there are multiple situations and reasons which may warrant the nominated Executor of an estate to petition the Surrogate's Court to be appointed Preliminary Executor of an Estate prior to Full Letters Testamentary being issued. Since these proceedings may be complicated it is important to contact an attorney with knowledge and experience in the area of estate administration.