Where Do I File for Probate?

When someone passes away, he or she typically designates an individual as the executor of the estate in a last will and testament. As the executor of the estate, that individual has tremendous responsibility to fulfill his or her duty to the deceased and carry out that person’s final wishes to distribute property as desired. Unless executors fully embrace their responsibility to act as the representative of an estate and gather all the necessary documentation, complications can arise that may delay what should otherwise be a relatively simple process.


One of the most important primary steps the executor of the estate will have to take is filling the estate with the appropriate probate court in New York State. The proper venue is in the probate court of the county where the deceased lived or intended to return to if he or she was away from their residence at the time of death. If the will is filed with the wrong probate court, the judge hearing the case will likely be forced to reject the will’s entrance to probate.


If the deceased had more than one home, the proper county would be the one where the individual primarily lived or intended to live before passing away. Often times, older people live out their final days in nursing homes or assisted living facilities in counties outside of where there home actually is. Again, the proper jurisdiction to file probate would be where the person lived or would have lived had he or she not been a resident at the nursing home or assisted living facility.


While this may seem simple enough, the truth is that sometimes there can be ambiguities that may hold up or otherwise delay probate proceedings by individuals or entities with interest in an estate. To help alleviate some of these possible barriers to passing a will through probate, executors need to gather all the necessary and pertinant documentation showing the deceased’s residence prior to his or her passing.


Such documents may include the deed to a home, property tax receipts, utility bills, or tax statements to show the deceased lived in one location or another and that he or she was a resident of the county where the will was entered into probate. Although one would never expect family or friends to challenge the legitimacy of an estate through trivial matters such as what may or may not be the proper venue for probate, the truth is that individuals who feel they are aggrieved may resort to such legal maneuvers.


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