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What to Do When Someone Died With a Will

Tips on Handling a Testate Westchester Estate

New York has a number of procedures in place that need to be followed when someone dies in order to settle their estate. The law is somewhat different depending on a number of circumstances, such as whether or not the person died with or without a will or what the size of the estate is. Whenever you have to deal with an estate, it is best to hire a Westchester estate attorney to make sure that you properly follow all necessary procedures in order to avoid problems in the future.

If there is a will, the will needs to be filed along with other paperwork to be given letters testamentary with the Surrogate’s Court located in White Plains. This would normally be filed by the executor named in the will (unlike if there was no will left, where a person would apply to be made Administrator of the estate and be given Letters of Administration). Whether someone is applying for letters testamentary with or without a will, they will have to provide a death certificate to the court.

Once the letters are issued, the estate debts need to be paid off. There is a seven month period after the letters are issued for the specific purpose of allowing any debtors to come forward. The letters would allow the executor or the administrator to dispose of estate proceeds and to pay these bills. While it would be allowed to have the executor or administrator to release funds to beneficiaries during these seven months, those funds would have to be returned to the estate if a debtor should materialize during that time and there are no other funds in the estate to pay the debt. If the money cannot be recovered from the beneficiary, this can lead to significant problems for the executor, who may be personally liable for the estate’s debts in that scenario.

After seven months have passed and the debtors have been paid, the estate is distributed to the named beneficiaries in the case of a will or to those allowed to collect under intestacy laws, usually close family members. After all assets have been distributed, the estate can be closed.

To learn more, read How Long Does It Take to Close an Estate in Westchester County.

If you are interested in hiring an attorney, call Westchester County, New York estate attorney Albert Gurevich, Esq. at (914) 293-2043.