Estate planning is essential to ensure your final wishes are carried out, but it can also be complicated and confusing if you’re not familiar with its many facets. Hiring an estate planning attorney can be extremely helpful during this process. One fundamental component of estate planning is the probate process and, specifically, the question how much does an estate have to be worth to go into probate?

How Much Does an Estate Have To Be Worth To Go Into Probate?

In New York, any estate valued over $50,000 must go through formal probate. Those estates with less than $50,000 in assets are considered “small estates” and can be handled through voluntary administration, not formal probate. This threshold includes personal property such as bank accounts, insurance policies, and investment accounts. Jointly owned bank accounts where the co-owner survives may not count toward the threshold.

Real Property

If the decedent solely owned real property like a house or land, then the estate cannot be considered small. However, if that real property is jointly owned with someone else and the decedent’s personal property is valued at less than $50,000, probate can still be avoided.

Exceptions to the Rule

If a person has died and a wrongful death suit or other lawsuit might be pursued, a probate proceeding should be filed, even if it’s otherwise a small estate. This is because there is a chance that a large amount of money may be added to the estate as a result of those legal proceedings.

What Is Probate?

Probate is the process of executing a deceased person’s Will or an estate when the decedent didn’t leave a Will. The process consists of a court determining the existence and validity of a Will. Once validated and ​accepted by the court, the Will’s instructions will be carried out.

Without a Will, the probate court will verify the next of kin and distribute assets in the order and amounts prescribed in the New York Estates, Powers, and Trust Law. Most people must have a legally binding Will to ensure that their assets will be divided up how they wish.

The Role of Executor in Probate

Often named in a Will, an executor is the person, or persons, responsible for carrying out the wishes of the decedent and acting in the best interest of the estate. The executor will pay the probate filing fee from the available assets because those fees are often considered estate expenses. Once the Will has been validated in court, that court will grant legal power to the executor to carry out the wishes of the Will, including distributing assets to named beneficiaries.

Having the peace of mind that comes from knowing your estate will be settled exactly the way you want is an enormous relief. If you’re looking for help with estate planning, call the law office of Joseph N. Yamaner and Associates in Queens, NY today to get started. We’re committed to answering all your questions, no matter how small, so you’re comfortable with the entire process.