In the past, probate in New York was a quick process, with Letters Testamentary typically issued within a few months. However, the pandemic has changed that. The Surrogate’s Courts are now facing staffing shortages and a significant backlog, causing delays of six months to a year.

What does this mean for you and your heirs?

It means that in the event of your death the hands of your heirs will be tied.

Without Letters Testamentary, your executors and heirs cannot act on your behalf. They cannot sell real estate owned by you. They may also struggle to gather asset information from your investment advisors, who are legally prohibited from disclosing information to unauthorized individuals, even if the account holder is deceased.

How to make sure this does not happen to your estate?

The use of a Revocable Trust makes for a seamless transfer of authority to manage your assets in the event of your death

At Schwartz Ettenger, we are encouraging our clients to consider the use of Revocable Trusts as part of their estate plan. A Revocable Trust (also known as a “living trust” or an “inter vivos trust”) is a trust that you create during your lifetime to hold your assets. Similar to a will, the trust governs the distribution of the assets upon death avoiding the probate process completely. Using a Revocable Trust allows you to be in control of your assets while you are alive and specifies the time and manner in which they are distributed upon your death.