If you have made a will, after your death the will is presented to the court in a probate proceeding. Probate is the court process where, after your death, the terms of your will are approved by a judge, and your assets, property and possessions are given out to your beneficiaries after your debts are paid off.

In New York State, probate proceedings take place in the part of the court called the “Surrogate’s Court” in the county where you were living when you died. Your assets, property and possessions are called your estate. The representative appointed by the court is called the “executor.” The legal documents that make that person your executor are called “letters testamentary.”

Only an estate valued over $30,000 must be probated when there is a will. The court has a “small estate proceeding” when the estate is below $30,000. An estate without a will is “administered,” not probated. 

To continue reading this article, click "Learn more" below. For information from the NY courts go to www.nycourts.gov

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Last Reviewed: April 27, 2023