Avoiding probate because of its expense and potential for conflict is a priority for many people in New York who are engaged in the estate planning process, leading to a preference for non-probate transfers, life insurance and other types of bequests that can pass without probate. Nevertheless, most estates will still need to go through an often-substantial probate process. If someone has an issue with the execution of the will after a loved one’s death, filing a probate claim is the major way to seek a resolution.

Once the deceased’s estate has officially entered probate, the person making a claim can file a statement-of-claim form with the court that is in charge of the estate administration and probate process. In general, this document will need to be filed in the location where the deceased person lived even if the claimant lives elsewhere. The probate process is generally handled where the deceased lived during his or her lifetime. The executor of the will, or, in some cases, another party as determined by the court, will be officially appointed the personal representative for the estate and sworn in. This person is required to announce the death in a public notice placed in a local newspaper.

In some cases, a person may be a creditor of the deceased or wish to challenge the will for a number of reasons. He or she may allege that the will is invalid due to another’s influence. Probate litigation will arise so that claims against the estate are handled by the court to determine their validity.

For people who are dealing with a complex estate administration and probate process, legal representation is important. The executor and beneficiaries of the estate can help protect their interests by working with an estate lawyer, and a claim being made against an estate can be strengthened and shaped by solid legal counsel.