What is Probate?
When a person dies, who inherits their estate depends on whether there is a Will, who the living relatives are and their relationship to the deceased.
When the person who died (the Decedent) had a Will, the Will must be filed in Surrogate’s Court and admitted (approved) for probate. Probate is the process of proving that the Will is valid (legally acceptable). During probate, the Will is proved to the satisfaction of the Court that it’s the Last Will and Testament of the deceased. Once the Judge in Surrogate’s Court, who is called the Surrogate, is convinced that the Will is legally acceptable, the Executor, named in the Will, is appointed to give out the estate (everything of value) that belonged to the deceased and carries out their wishes outlined in the Will. The Surrogate’s Court oversees this process.
Filing for Probate
The Executor files the original Will and a certified death certificate, a document that has the date and location of a person’s death, along with a form called a probate petition and other supporting documents in the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the deceased lived, and had their primary residence.