Weiss & Weiss conducts estate administration services for its clients as necessary. We are familiar with the particular requirements of the Surrogate's Courts in each county in the vicinity of our firm. After the death of the person whose estate is to be administered, the concerned family member will contact us. We will schedule an appointment at our office. We recommend that they have knowledge of the assets and liabilities as of the date of death and bring with these documents with them: will, codicils, trust agreement, death certificate and divorce decree (if applicable) and have such information as the social security number of the deceased. In our discussion, we will obtain the data needed to file the Probate or Administration Petition with the Surrogate’s Court of the proper county, depending on whether the person died with or without a will. Knowledge of the blood relatives of the deceased, including their names and current addresses is important to provide early in the process. During our meeting, we will suggest other matters that may be helpful to the client given the loss that they have suffered, such as providing for immediate cash needs for the survivors and access to the deceased’s safe deposit box. We also discuss potentially adversarial issues that may arise in the proceeding.
If a beneficiary or distributee is a minor or under a disability, which could be a physical or mental disability or being incarcerated, special procedures are required. Such a beneficiary or distributee needs to be served with a Citation, which is published according to Court Order. The Citation will require appearance in Surrogate’s Court on the return date ordered by the Court to indicate whether they object to letters being issued to the proposed fiduciary or to other dispositions in the Will. If the party being served with a Citation is under a disability, is unknown or cannot be found, the Court will appoint a Guardian ad Litem to represent their interests. Our attorneys have interacted with such Guardians ad Litem and have served as such upon appointment of the Court. When required by the Court, we prepare and file family tree affidavits and coordinate with private investigators and genealogists in order to obtain the information to include in the family tree affidavit.
Once Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration are issued by the Surrogate’s Court, we will advise the client as to the transfer of assets, resolution of liabilities of the deceased and supervise the submission of estate and fiduciary tax returns to New York State and the Federal government as may be required by the estate. Prior to the payment of legacies to beneficiaries, we may recommend that a receipt and release be obtained from the recipient, to confirm that the party has received all monies that it believes are due from the estate and to prevent future claims. In order to preserve estate assets, we distinguish between those liabilities that are justifiably due and those that may be successfully settled or reduced. We coordinate the receipt of an appraisal prepared by a licensed appraiser, as needed to value assets for equitable distribution among surviving beneficiaries or for inclusion of the accurate value of an asset on an estate tax return. At times, an asset is unique, such as a closely held business interest or investment that is not readily sold to the general public. In such cases, we are familiar with specialized appraisers who are qualified to assist our estate clients. Advice is rendered by us with respect to the proper commission to be received by the estate fiduciary. We also assist in implementing testamentary trusts as may be indicated. Our attorneys provide all support requested by the estate fiduciary, whether such support is legal, financial or personal advice.
We are available to our clients for specialized Court filings that may be required. A safe deposit box may be inaccessible prior to the issuance of Letters of Administration or Letters Testamentary, but may contain important documents such as the Will to be probated. In such a case, a Court Order is required for access to the safe deposit box. The Court may require that third parties, such as a bank officer or attorney supervise the opening of the safe deposit box, so that a family member does not take and destroy the Will or take jewelry or other personal property that may belong to someone else. We are also prepared to obtain a bond as may be required by the Court. A Petition may be required to seek the Court’s permission to sell real estate that is subject to another legal proceeding. An ancillary proceeding may be required if estate assets are located in another state or country besides that of the deceased’s primary residence. Should a successor trustee or executor require appointment, we are skilled in submitting the legal documents to the Surrogate’s Court to accomplish same.
Our attorneys keep abreast of revisions to the tax code of New York State and the federal government, in order to properly advise our clients of filings required.