The following proceeding covers those decedents who died with over $30,000.00 in assets. If the decedent died with a Will, the proceeding is PROBATE. If the decedent died without a will, the proceeding is an ADMINISTRATION.
For those decedents who died having a Last Will and Testament (testate), PROBATE is the process in which a Will is "proved " to the satisfaction of the Court to be the valid Last Will and Testament of the decedent, the person named in the Will as Executor is appointed to carry out the wishes of the decedent and jurisdiction is obtained over all interested parties who are given an opportunity to oppose the Will prior to its admission to probate. The proceeding is filed with the Surrogate's Court in the County where the decedent was domiciled prior to his/her death. A nursing home is not considered a domicile, but you would file the proceeding in the County where the decedent resided prior to entering the nursing home.
DO NOT REMOVE THE STAPLES FROM THE WILL WHEN MAKING COPIES BEFORE FILING WITH THE COURT. Removal of staples may provide grounds for objection to probate. If the staples have been removed and the document re-stapled, you must provide the Court with a notarized affidavit stating why they were removed (i.e. for making copies), where the document has been kept since it was executed and that you believe that no substitutions/changes have been made since its execution.
At minimum, you must file the original Will, death certificate and probate petition. If there is more than one distributee, waivers must be executed by them or a citation must be served upon them. If there are beneficiaries who receive something under a will, but who are not distributees, they are sent notice of probate. Please click on Checklists to review what is required by the Court for a probate proceeding. FORMS are available on this web site. If you have any questions, please call the Surrogate's Court in whatever County you will be filing in.
Please be advised that you have certain Obligations and Responsibilities as Fiduciary or Executor under the will.
Surrogate's Court Home Page