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When does a New York estate need to pass through probate?

| May 6, 2020 | estate administration & probate |

If you will be the executor of an estate or if you are one of the beneficiaries who is waiting for the distribution of assets from the estate, you might wonder whether the estate needs to pass through the probate court in New York as part of the estate administration process.

There are specific rules that govern whether an estate must go through the New York probate courts as part of its administration. Familiarizing yourself with these rules can help you determine the process that remains prior to the distribution of assets.

Small estates are sometimes eligible to avoid probate

When you look at the total value of the assets in the estate that will pass down to beneficiaries and heirs, you can quickly determine whether the value of the estate is small enough for it to avoid probate court.

Only estates with a total value of $30,000 worth of assets or less can successfully sidestep probate. Estates with a value higher than that must generally get probated as part of their administration. However, if the deceased individual took certain steps as part of their estate planning, it is still possible that estates with substantial assets could avoid probate.

Holding assets in certain ways can eliminate probate requirements

There are decisions people make while they are still alive that influence how the courts view their assets after they die. For example, moving a substantial portion of their assets into a trust could help someone prevent probate involvement in the administration of their estate, as trusts can often bypass probate proceedings.

If someone did not create a trust, there may be other forms of ownership that influence whether an asset must go through probate. If someone holds title for real estate with their spouse in a manner that gives their spouse rights of survivorship, the marital home doesn’t have to pass through probate for total ownership to fall to the surviving spouse.

Similarly, transfer on death designation for investment and banking accounts can help ensure quick access by the individual designated in the appropriate paperwork. Barring such planning, larger estates will require review by the New York probate courts.