Estate Settlement – Frequently Asked Questions

Your estate settlement and estate planning needs are important to us.

We’ve put together a list of questions and answers to provide you with more information about settling an estate. Please call us to make an appointment.

Estate Settlement Questions:

My loved one has passed away, what do I do? 

Will probate be required, even if there is a will?

How much do you charge for estate settlement services?

How long does it take to settle an estate?

My loved one has passed away, what do I do?

In most cases you will work first with the funeral home to make arrangements to bury or cremate your loved one. The funeral home will probably notify the local Social Security office of the death, but you should make sure they have. The funeral home will also help you order death certificates.

Make sure that all of the information on the death certificate is correct, as it is time consuming and costly to correct mistakes. Pay special attention to spelling of the decedent’s name and Social Security number; ask someone to check your work. You will no doubt have many questions about what needs to be done next. Please call our office at 845-727-4000 to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our experienced estate settlement attorneys.

Use our Estate Work List and Estate Settlement Worksheet to help you organize the decedent’s information.

Will probate be required, even if there is a will? 

Whether or not the decedent had a will does not determine whether probate is required. Rather, it is what the decedent owned and how he or she owned those assets that will determine whether or not court proceedings are required. These proceedings are called “probate” when there is a will and “administration” when there is no will.

Our Estate Settlement Worksheet will help you understand if court proceedings will be required.

How much do you charge for estate settlement services?

Because settling an estate can be an open-ended matter, in most cases we charge an hourly fee. In some cases, the fee is a percentage based on the size of the gross estate. In all cases, we will discuss this with you and agree what is appropriate in your situation. You will know before work begins how the estate will be billed for legal services.

How long does it take to settle an estate?

Every case is different and the answer will depend on many factors. In most cases it takes at least nine months to a year.  If estate tax returns need to be filed, if there are feuding family members, or real estate or a business needs to be sold, it can take longer. Settling an estate is an exercise in patience!

To make an appointment to discuss your situation, call us at 845-727-4000 or 212-864-6401.