Probate Shortcuts in New York

Save time and money when you wrap up an estate in New York by using these probate shortcuts.

New York offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died. You may be able to transfer a large amount of property using the following probate shortcut -- saving time, money, and hassle.

Simplified Probate Procedures

New York has a simplified probate process for small estates. To use it, an executor files a written request with the local probate court asking to use the simplified procedure. The court may authorize the executor to distribute the assets without having to jump through the hoops of regular probate.

You can use the simplified small estate process in New York if the property, excluding real estate and amounts that must be set aside for surviving family members, has a gross value of $30,000 or less. N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § 1301.

Under this process, the executor files the request and attaches a certified copy of the death certificate. The court clerk mails each person named in the will notice of the filed request. The executor gives a copy of the filed request to anyone who has the deceased person’s property and collects this property. There is no waiting period after the death to use this process. N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act 1304.

Then the executor:

  • opens an estate bank account to deposit funds and administer the estate
  • pay, as much as is possible, the costs of administration, reasonable funeral expenses, and the deceased person’s debts
  • sell any personal property he or she collects to make these payments
  • distributes any remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will,
  • files a statement that identifies all assets he or she collected and the distributions he or she made to the court.

N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act 1307.

For More Information

For help determining if an estate qualifies for the probate shortcut, or handling an estate in general, see see The Executor’s Guide, by Mary Randolph (Nolo) or Estate Planning Basics, by Denis Clifford (Nolo).

For more on New York estate planning issues, see our section on New York Estate Planning.

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