Safeguard your inheritance with an experienced attorney who tailor's his representation to your facts, circumstances, and budget.

Probate can be complicated. For more than 25 years, Michael S. Haber has been helping people to get their inheritances as quickly and easily as possible. He's ready to develop a powerful plan designed for you to get the assets you deserve as quickly as the law allows.

The Probate Process

The Probate Process

Probate is the process of proving to the court that the will is genuine and valid. In fact, the word "probate" comes from the Latin word meaning "to prove." In some cases, the probate proceeding is contested, meaning that somebody claims that the will should be declared to be invalid. (See our Contested Probate page). Most probate proceedings, however, are uncontested.

In an uncontested probate proceeding, we will gather the necessary information and documents quickly, and create court-required documents promptly, so that we can get the will probated in a short amount of time. By understanding the concerns of the court and being proactive, we can often anticipate issues that could otherwise impede the probate process.

How Long Does It Take?

Exactly how long probate will take may differ from case to case, and will depend on the issues involved, but it can be said with certainty that almost always the amount of time from the date when the probate file is complete until the court grants probate ranges from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the county in which the probate proceeding is pending. In upstate Hamilton County, which has a population of 5,000, or Schuyler County, with a population of 18,000, the court is unlikely to be clogged with probate cases (or much of anything else). The most populous counties in New York include Brooklyn, with a 2,600,000 population, Queens, with a 2,300,000 population, and Manhattan, with a population of 1,600,000. These crowded counties can be expected to be somewhat backed up.

In circumstances in which it is anticipated that probate may take quite a while (usually because certain information or documentation is not readily available), we can usually procure "preliminary letters testamentary" - meaning temporary authority while the application for probate remains pending.

From your first discussion or meeting with him, Mr. Haber will size up the situation, alert you to challenges and pitfalls, and let you know his plan to quickly achieve the result that you want. At every step of the way, you and Mr. Haber will be a team working to achieve exceptional results.

Our job is to ease the legal process, not complicate your responsibilities at a difficult time. We'll design an effective strategy from day one, and create a roadmap to quickly achieve our goals. You'll be a key part of the decision-making process from the very beginning.

What's Included In The Probate Estate?

The probate estate is made up of assets that are solely in the name of the person who passed away. Thus, for purposes of probate, we do not include jointly-held assets and those that have a designated beneficiary.

In rare instances, an asset (such as a bank account) may have been titled as jointly-held solely for purposes of the convenience of the owner of the asset. That is the only exception to the above rule. 

An estate's assets will consist of all sorts of property - bank accounts, securities, personal property, and real property. Sometimes it may consist also of such property as life insurance policies. And in other cases, an estate asset may be a lawsuit (or potential lawsuit) in which the decedent is a party or potential party.

It is the lawyer's job to simplify the probate process, not add layers of complication. We will work to design a winning plan. There are plenty of procedural requirement in law, and we'll have to deal with them, but we'll never lose sight of the fact that our goal is not legal procedure, but, rather, substantive results

SOME FACTS ABOUT WILLS AND PROBATE

  • A surviving spouse cannot be completely disinherited. But the spouse must move quickly because those rights can be forfeited.
  • One can disinherit one's children.
  • A missing will often leads to the conclusion that the will must have been revoked.
  • State law defines what constitutes a will. Unless the document strictly conforms to that definition, the person's intentions may amount to nothing.
  • If a person dies without a will, then assets that are in that person's name alone will be distributed by a New York State formula. Please take a look at our Estate Administration page.
  • Probate proceedings are done in the state and the county in which the person last resided, not the state and county in which he or she passed away, and not the state and county in which any of the beneficiaries reside.
  • If real estate is owned in a different state, there will have to be an initial proceeding in New York and then what is known as an "ancillary" proceeding in the other state.
  • Assets held jointly or with a designated beneficiary pass automatically to that other person. (There are very limited exceptions to this rule).
  • A convicted felon cannot serve as executor of an estate.
  • To make a will, a person doesn't need to have full mental capacity, but, rather, must know the approximate value of his or her assets and the will must leave those assets to persons who the testator would naturally want to benefit.

Preparing For Your Appointment

If you want to speed up the probate process, be sure to bring
with you to your first appointment with your attorney as many of the following documents as possible:

  • Death certificate (certified copy) -
  • The original copy of the will (if there was one)
  • Copy of paid funeral bills
  • List of names and addresses of family members (including information about whether any family member is a minor, and whether any` family member is deceased).
  • List of assets owned by your deceased family member
  • Addresses of any real property owned by your deceased family member.

Mr. Haber can usually prepare the necessary papers quickly. That means that quite often we can get the executor or administrator formally appointed by the court faster than you thought possible.

PAYMENT OPTIONS

Probate work is usually done by the hour, but a variety of other approaches are also possible, including a flat rate, a payment plan, and in certain instances a percentage of the value of the estate. Over the course of many years of practicing law, Mr. Haber has helped clients achieve their goals regardless of their finances.

Payments can be done by just about any method, including credit cards.