What is considered a small estate?

Whether you are creating a will to make sure your assets are protected after you pass away or you have been named the executor of an estate, you may be dealing with a number of issues related to estate administration. Since every situation is unique, it is vital to review the individual details concerning the estate and understand how the laws in New York may affect you and your family.

Also known as voluntary administration, decedents who have under $30,000 worth of personal property are considered to have a small estate, according to the New York State Unified Court System. However, if a decedent was the sole owner of real property, he or she cannot have a small estate . If your loved one recently passed away and had no more than $30,000 in personal property but you anticipate legal action (such as a wrongful death claim), an administration or probate proceeding is necessary.

When someone has a small estate and passes away without a will, his or her nearest distributee will typically file for administration of the estate. On the other hand, when a small estate’s decedent had a will, the executor of the estate will submit the death certificate and original will along with the petition.

For estates both large and small, handling wills, trusts and other estate matters properly is pivotal. By understanding the laws and taking the right approach, family disputes and stressful complications could be avoided. Please keep in mind that this information is not a substitute for legal advice.

Addressing family disputes over a will

If you recently lost a parent, spouse, sibling or other member of the family, you may have a great deal of emotional pain and be facing other challenges, such as financial problems resulting from a lost source of income. Unfortunately, when someone leaves behind a will, disputes can arise within the family and these tragedies do not always cause families to become closer. At the law offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, we know how difficult these circumstances can be for families in Jamaica, New York.

When it comes to disputes over a will, making sure that your loved one’s wishes are honored is paramount. Sometimes, people take advantage of opportunities to gain access to assets that were not intended for them, which can be especially painful for those who are already upset over losing someone they loved. If you suspect that your loved one’s will is not being managed properly, or if someone has accused you of failing to oversee an estate appropriately, it is crucial to carefully assess the situation and understand any relevant laws. By making sure that a dispute is dealt with appropriately, you may be able to obtain a more favorable outcome.

Making sense of legal issues related to an estate can be challenging, especially for people who are depressed over a recent death. However, failure to take action could lead to challenges that linger for many years. If possible, it is crucial for you to focus on minimizing conflict and avoiding disagreements that could impact the family even more.

If you head over to our will contests page, you can access more on legal issues involving a will .

Children and inheritance in New York

When it comes to estate planning, you may have a number of issues in front of you, such as creating a will and determining how your assets will be distributed after you pass away. If you have children, there may be additional considerations you should take into account. For example, you may need to figure out how to divide property among your children or you may need to take steps to ensure that they can actually inherit your assets after your death. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we understand how complicated estate planning can be for people in Jamaica, New York, and across the nation.

According to the New York State Unified Court System, there are a number of requirements which must be met in order for children to inherit property  after their parents pass away. If a child was born to parents who were not married, paternity must have been established for him or her to inherit property after a parent passes away. If you are not married to your child’s other parent, you may want to establish paternity to make sure your child is able to inherit property.

In New York, a legal relationship between parents and children must be established for children to inherit assets from a will. If foster children were not adopted, they do not have a right to inheritance. However, adopted children have the same inheritance rights as biological children. If you visit the section of our site devoted to estate administration, you can read more on wills and inheritance .

Proving the validity of a will

From emotional pain to anxiety over heading to court, you may be struggling with a variety of challenges if one of your loved ones recently passed away. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we know how difficult life can be for people who are trying to move forward after losing a family member in Jamaica, and cities across the state of New York. Although this may be a tough time for you, it is important to carefully examine your circumstances and handle any legal issues appropriately.

According to the New York Unified Court System, the probate process  involves proving that wills are valid in court. When judges are convinced of the validity of wills, they appoint executors to fulfill the decedents’ wishes. Probate can have an impact on many different people related to a decedent and may affect creditors, beneficiaries, heirs, debt collectors and executors.

An executor of the estate will have a number of duties, which are important for you to recognize if you have been given this responsibility. When you file a probate petition, you will need to provide your loved one’s death certificate and original will in their county of primary residence. In fact, you could be able to file paperwork online.

Dealing with legal issues related to a will may seem stressful, but it is vital to ensure that your loved one’s estate is managed properly. If you head over to our page on probating the will, you can take a look at additional material related to will validation .

Where there’s a will, there’re family squabbles

Many individuals believe that simply the act of writing a will and getting it notarized will allow peace to reign amongst family members after the testator has passed on. Yet in many cases, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, as it only sets the acrimonious process of probate in motion.

Probate has been described as the ” set of procedural laws that determine what happens to someone’s property when they die .” The heirs who are named in the will become part of the process, and the will becomes the guide for the way the decedent’s assets shall be divided. But simply splitting the assets is no guarantee that family harmony will be preserved.

Equitable asset division can lead to sibling wars

Consider a case where a parent with three adult children dies. One is relatively well-off and would like to preserve the family home, which is located along the shore. He envisions sharing the property with extended family for years, then eventually selling, and all of the siblings pocketing a handsome profit from the eventual sale decades later.

The middle daughter is married to a teacher, and they have three kids who will soon be facing college tuition bills. She is more inclined to sell, but can see the wisdom of waiting for a more robust housing market and likes the lure of a summer home by the shore as well.

The youngest son, however, has very different ideas. He’s got fire in his belly to jump on the start-up craze for the brain-enhancing chemicals market and needs some fast cash to make it happen. He’s jumped from job to job all his life and lived paycheck to paycheck. The only thing he cares about is getting his cut from the sale of his parent’s house.

What you now have is a scenario where, at best, it will become a two-against-one battle, and at worst, a three-way tug-of-war, as each sibling strives to achieve his or her own means to the end. No parent wants to be responsible for causing such rancor and chaos among family members.

Put your assets in a revocable trust instead

To circumvent the probate process and maintain some semblance of control over your estate, a revocable trust is one option to consider. This is a type of contract that establishes an entity – the trust itself – where your assets will be titled in your name during your life. You then appoint the trustee of your choice to manage the trust after your death, which assures that you can hand pick someone who will honor your wishes.

A trust is certainly not your only option, and your family circumstances and financial picture will dictate the best possible estate planning scenario for your unique needs. Those who would like to learn more can contact an estate planning attorney to answer any questions.