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If the difficulties, stress and expenses your family may have to confront when you pass away are of no concern to you, then read no further. If, on the other hand, you would like to make things as easy as possible on the people you leave behind, even if you will only be there in spirit, you may want to consider taking some measures to avoid probate. What’s probate, you ask. Well, in New York, when someone dies with a written document that appears to be their Will, that document must be probated before the nominated executor will be authorized to carry out its instructions. Probate is the name of the court proceeding where the written instrument is proved to be the decedent’s Will.

To probate a Will, the original version must be filed with the Surrogate’s Court with the proper petition, other paperwork and filing fee and all persons with an interest in the outcome of the probate proceeding will be entitled to receive notice and an opportunity to object to the alleged Will. Even if there are no objections to the Will, probating a Will can be expensive and time consuming.

Fortunately, there are ways to avoid probate. For example, having designated beneficiaries on financial accounts will result in those assets vesting in the designated beneficiaries immediately upon death without the need for probate. Similarly, a properly funded revocable trust with specific instructions of what should happen with trust assets will remove the trust assets from probate.

If you’re interested in avoiding probate and leaving behind a more organized situation for your loved ones, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced trusts and estates attorney to determine what plan is best for you.