Imagine a man passes away and his daughter finds a document titled “Last Will and Testament” in his closet. She sees that it’s signed by her father and two witnesses. Is this the man’s Will? Well, in New York, when someone dies and leaves behind a document that seems like their Will, it needs to go through a process called “probate” before it becomes legally binding. Probate is the process of proving that the document is valid.
To probate a Will, the person nominated as the executor usually files the original document with the Surrogate’s Court, along with a petition asking the court to declare that the filed document is the Decedent’s Last Will and Testament. During the probate proceeding, people who are affected by the outcome of the case have the right to contest the validity of the Will. These people can ask to examine the witnesses and the attorney who drafted the Will, and then decide whether or not to file objections to probate. If they do, litigation will follow concerning the objections made. The outcome of this litigation will determine whether the document is in fact the Decedent’s Will.
Probating a Will can be complicated and stressful. It’s important to seek the representation and counsel of an experienced attorney to help guide you through this process.
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