Does a Will for a small estate need to go through probate?

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Does a Will for a small estate need to go through probate?

My father just passed leaving everything to my mother through his Will. Mom’s name is on all of his assets. Mom also has a Will that names myself and sister as her beneficiaries. Does mom need to have dad’s Will probated to enforce hers? Is this really expensive for a small estate? Does she need a lawyer if there is no one who will contest dad’s Will?

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

S.J.H., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The only reason to probate a will is if there is no other name on the asset or beneficiary on the assets of  your father.  It would then be necessary to probate the will to see what your father's wishes were as to the distribution of the assets of the estate. In this case, if your mom is on all the assets then there is no need for the probate of the estate, since everything goes to your monther by operation of law. Just make sure that you keep several original death certificates around in case it becomes an issue Do not even bother with probating the estate if there are no probate assets ( assets with no joint owner or  beneficiary) which will only lead to  an expense that is not necessary


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