Probate & Administration Explained
Inside Witecki Law Office

What is the difference between estate administration and probate? Are they the same thing? Which applies to my situation?

Probate and estate administration are both processes by which a decedent’s property is passed to a named beneficiary or lawful heir. Everyone has an estate. Some people give directions about what to do with their property after their death in an “estate plan”, and some do not.

In New York State, the Surrogates Court supervises both probate and estate administration. If the person had a will, the will goes through probate and the executor named in that will is the fiduciary responsible for ensuring the property goes to the named beneficiary.

The entire process usually takes about a year. This is easier, quicker, and less expensive for the court and for families because the decedent left detailed instructions on what to do with his or her property.

On the other hand, if a person dies without a Will, the person’s property is distributed according to the “intestacy” laws of New York. These rules determine who will inherit your property if you die without a will. It is always best to execute a Will so that you are the one deciding who will inherit your assets. See our “Will Challenges” section of this website to learn who inherits the property of an individual who dies without a Will.

We can help you with every aspect of probate and estate administration, including:

  • Locating and gathering all estate property and assessing its value;
  • Collecting investment income (e.g., dividends, stocks, etc.);
  • Determining proper payment methods for claims, debts, or taxes against the estate;
  • Communicating with the Surrogates Court;
  • Assisting in the preparation of estate tax returns; and
  • Distributing property to beneficiaries.

The Witecki Law Office provides the following estate planning services: Wills and Trusts, Asset Protection, Medicaid Planning, Elder Law, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Administration, Guardianships, and Health Care Proxies.