Probate and Estate Administration

After an individual passes away, it is critical for the next of kin to arrange for an efficient way to pay the decedent's debts and distribute assets to those who are entitled to them.

Probate Petition Process

When a person dies with a will, a petition for probate is filed in the local surrogate's court to begin the process. In that court proceeding, the executor is formally appointed by the court that rarely requires the executor's personal appearance. As soon as the executor is appointed, that person marshals assets of the estate and distributes them according to the terms of the will. With respect to assets which have a named beneficiary, such as life insurance, annuities, or joint accounts, the executor sometimes assists in processing claims or account changes. Where an estate is large enough in value to require the filing of a federal or state inheritance tax return, the executor must be made fully aware of the exact value of all assets at the date of death in order to accurately report them to the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance.

Our attorneys and estate paralegals are well-trained and experienced in providing these services to the executor and family of the person who has passed away. Although the great majority of estates can be administered, distributed and closed within a year after death, we have extensive background in estate litigation, preparation of estate tax returns, income tax returns and audits when the need arises. Our attorneys can advise the executor as to reports which must be filed with the court and taxing authorities during the period of administration.

Although many regard the position of executor as burdensome at times, our lawyers and staff streamline the experience to facilitate compliance. Contact us to inquire about how our approach can help you.


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Costello, Cooney & Fearon, PLLC has provided expert and diverse legal services to Syracuse and surrounding communities for more than 100 years.