Probate & Estate Administration

Who REALLY ought to make a Will?

If you are considering whether you need to or not, the answer to this question starts with a question…..

“Who would inherit from you if you did not make a Will?”

When I interview someone who is considering making a Will, the first issue I explore is THAT.  

In the last post I set forth a few “little things” that affect the probate process.  These things impact the complexity, timing and expense that may be involved.  Here are a few to consider:

1. A Will that is not attorney prepared and/or supervised.  Putting aside possible lack of clarity with a non-attorney will, there

When we “probate” a Will, we are having the Court recognize it as official and proper. The Court then grants “Letters Testamentary” to the Executor, giving the appointed person authority to act.

When looking at a probate proceeding, a few basic elements will determine how simple or complicated the proceeding is going to be.


To understand things that would add complexity to probating a Will, it is useful to look at what an ideal (and easy) probate looks like.  The complicated situations occur when one or more of these simplifying factors are missing, or when some troubling variation is in play.

In an ideal situation, we have the following:

The word “probate” is often tossed around as something to be avoided.  As if the failure to avoid it were a mark of stupidity, or symbolized a lack of care or planning.

On some level if a person does extensive planning, and has ALL their assets with named beneficiaries, or if a person creates a

Questions sometimes arise about where to keep a Will, and who to tell about it. In a perfect world, where families are close and people communicate openly, this would not be an issue.  The person who makes a will should discuss it with his trusted family members and tell them where the will is, confident

Every case has a story, a set of facts that answer the question “What is this about?”

That is always the first question. The first question I ask a new client. The first question I address when telling an associate or paralegal about a new matter, and the first question Judges ask whenever you appear

Many lawyers deal with Surrogates Court only peripherally.  Questions about Estates and Surrogates Court come up often enough that it is worth knowing the basics. Here are 10 things worth knowing, even if you never set foot in Surrogates Court.

1. The Surrogate Court Clerk’s offices are broken down into departments:

– Probate (Wills and

Sometimes I resort to unusual methods to solve a problem.

Recently I had two people in my office who were involved in a difficult estate situation. They were two of five adult children who had inheritance rights.  So, to a degree they were united in interest.  The guy was the Executor and a one fifth