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To Probate or to Not Probate

While recently discussing an estate plan with a client, she stopped me and asked “What is probate?” Sometimes we forget to explain certain concepts. Essentially, 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 would have inherited from the decedent’s estate had the decedent died without a Will. The proceeding for the probate of a Will takes place in the Surrogate’s Court in the County where the decedent resided at the time of his or her death. The probate proceeding gives the interested parties (or “distributees”) the right and opportunity to object to the probate of the Will.

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