When someone dies after naming you as an executor in his or her will, it is your job to manage and distribute the estate. Unless the estate is worth less than $30,000, this involves a legal proceeding called probate. In New York, probate is accomplished through the Surrogate’s Court. There are important rules you must follow to probate a will.  

As the executor, you must first obtain the death certificate. If you do not have the original document, you can use a certified copy from the New York State Department of Health. Then, you must locate the original will. Next, you fill out a probate petition that includes a list of all the heirs to the estate. Once you have all of these documents, you must submit them to the Surrogate’s Court located in the county of the decedent’s primary residence. According to the New York State Unified Court System, certain courts allow you to file these documents online. 

Once the Surrogate’s Court confirms you as the executor, the heirs must be notified of probate with a citation. This citation informs the beneficiaries that you have filed for the right to manage the estate. Heirs have the option to consent to your designation as the executor or show up in court to dispute it.  

The judge will then determine whether the will is valid. If the judge is convinced that the will is valid, you will then carry out the wishes of the decedent while the Surrogate’s Court oversees the process.  

This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not legal advice.