It is important to remember that whether your estate is subject to probate or not, you should make sure that you have designed a comprehensive estate planning strategy that effectively distributes all of your assets so that your family is not forced to rely on the state to make important decisions regarding the distribution of your estate. At the same time, smaller estate may be eligible for a process known as voluntary administration in New York. This process is also called disposition without administration or small estate proceeding, but regardless of what it is called it is important to understand the process especially if it may be applicable to you.
Basics of Voluntary Administration
Voluntary administration can take place whether or not the deceased person has left a Last Will & Testament. Typically, only personal property is eligible for distribution through voluntary administration. This means that if a deceased person solely owned real property such as a home that you plan to sell, then such property would not be eligible for voluntary administration and would presumably exceed the value of the small estate threshold. Currently, the New York small estate threshold is set at $30,000 which means that any estate valued over that amount will still be required to go through probate. Generally, any interested party may file to become the voluntary administrator of a deceased person’s estate that qualifies for voluntary administration.
As is mentioned above, an estate must be valued at under $30,000 and must not contain real property that you plan to sell to be eligible for voluntary administration in New York. If an estate meets these basic requirements, you will need additional information including but not limited to the following:
- Personal information regarding the deceased;
- The value of assets within the deceased’s estate; and
- Important information about the potential beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate.
An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand more about the requirements for voluntary administration. Your estate planning attorney may also be able to provide you with important guidance when it comes to required forms for voluntary administration, such as the small estate affidavit program that must be completed in order to utilize voluntary administration.
Voluntary Administration and You
You should not plan on voluntary administration being available for you after your death, though it may end up being the best option for your estate at that time. It is difficult to predict the value of assets within your estate, especially if such assets consist of items whose value may fluctuate – like stocks or other investment assets. That is why an experienced estate planning attorney can help make sure that your comprehensive estate planning strategy has prepared your assets for the potential of voluntary administration but also for the possibility that your assets may not be able to avoid probate. It is also important to make sure you have prepared important estate planning documents that direct the way in which your resources will be distributed and that you have followed up on all non-probate assets to ensure that they have designated beneficiaries in accordance with your wishes. It is always important to discuss your wishes with those closest to you so that they can help ensure such wishes are met, either through voluntary administration or the probate process.