Quite often, clients may not be aware that only certain assets have to go through probate. The probate proceeding is to admit a Last Will and Testament in New York as valid and conferring upon the Executor the rights and duties pertaining thereto.
Let’s first discuss non-probate assets, or what can be commonly referred to as testamentary substitutes. The assets can include the following: joint accounts, real property owned jointly with another (i.e. JTWROS, husband and wife), accounts with named beneficiaries, IRAs with named beneficiaries, pension with named beneficiaries, property help in a Trust. This list is not comprehensive, but gives you a sense that only property that is titled in the name of the decedent (person who passed away), for which there is no named beneficiary has to go through the probate process with the Surrogate’s Court in New York.
People prefer to have assets not go through probate for a variety of reasons, some of which are to avoid a will contest or to not have the property held up in the probate process. Quite often, having real property placed in a Trust prior to the Grantor passing away helps to ensure the seamless transition of the property so as to avoid probate.
Contested or uncontested, the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the processing of probate petitions and placing matters on the calendar, however the process has begun to speed up again and Letters Testamentary and Decrees are issuing at a faster pace than during the height of the pandemic.