Navigating Probate: Understanding the Process in Queens

When a loved one passes away in Queens, New York, navigating the legal process to distribute their assets can feel overwhelming. This process, known as probate, ensures the deceased person’s wishes are followed and their debts are settled before beneficiaries receive their inheritance. Understanding the probate process in Queens can help you approach this situation with more confidence.

Is Probate Required for Every Estate?

Not all estates require probate. In New York, estates valued under $30,000 typically qualify for a simplified procedure called “small estate administration.” This streamlined process allows beneficiaries to collect certain assets without going through the full probate court.

For estates exceeding $30,000, probate becomes necessary. Here’s a simplified breakdown of the probate process in Queens:

  • Filing the Petition: The executor named in the will (or a designated person if there’s no will) initiates probate by filing a petition with the Queens County Surrogate’s Court. This petition includes the will (if there is one), a death certificate, and details about the estate’s assets and liabilities.
  • Court Hearing and Will Validation:  A court hearing is scheduled to validate the will, if present. This involves proving the will’s authenticity and ensuring it meets legal requirements.
  • Inventorying the Estate: The executor identifies and values all the deceased’s assets, including property, bank accounts, and investments.
  • Debt Settlement: The executor uses estate funds to pay off outstanding debts and taxes before distributing assets to beneficiaries.
  • Distributing Assets: Once debts are settled and the court approves, the executor distributes the remaining assets to beneficiaries as outlined in the will or according to New York’s intestacy laws (if there’s no will).

The Duration of Probate

The timeline for probate varies depending on the estate’s complexity. Uncontested cases with straightforward assets can take several months, while complex estates with disputes or illiquid assets might take a year or more.

Considering Legal Help

Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process. Consulting an experienced Queens probate attorney can be beneficial.  An attorney can guide you through the legal procedures, ensure proper documentation, and represent you in court if necessary. This can save you time, minimize stress, and ensure the estate is settled efficiently and accurately.


Probate is a necessary step to ensure the legal and orderly distribution of a loved one’s assets. By understanding the process and seeking professional guidance when needed, you can navigate probate in Queens with greater confidence.