New York Probate Attorney

Surrogate's Courthouse interior

The Surrogate’s Court in New York County is a century-old ornate Beaux Arts building that boasts 56 exterior statues, and an interior that has been used for movie scenes.

Safeguard your inheritance with an experienced attorney who will tailor his representation to your facts, circumstances, and budget.

Consider hiring a lawyer who wrote the book on probate:  enter your email below for your FREE 150-page online handbook dealing with numerous aspects of probate law in New York. Probate can be complicated.

For more than 25 years, Michael S. Haber has been helping people to get their inheritances as quickly and easily as possible.  He’s ready to develop a powerful plan designed for you to get the assets you deserve as quickly as the law allows.

From your first discussion or meeting with him, Mr. Haber will size up the situation, assess your case’s strengths and weaknesses, alert you to challenges and pitfalls, and immediately let you know his plan to quickly achieve the result that you want.  At every step of the way, you and Mr. Haber will be a team working to achieve exceptional results for you.

Whether your family member passed away with or without a will, an estate proceeding can often be done quickly.  Mr. Haber’s mission is to ease the legal process, not complicate your responsibilities at a difficult time.  He’ll design a strategy from day one, and will explain his recommendation as to how to proceed.  You’ll be a key part of the decision-making process from the very beginning.

Mr. Haber can help draft effective estate planning documents, likes wills, trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies, and living wills, as well as to probate or administer estates, and conduct will contests.

 Probate Contests

Questions often arise about whether a will is genuine, whether the testator (the person who signed it) was competent to execute a will, or whether someone unfairly pressured the testator to make the will.   In a contested estate, Michael Haber will make sure you understand the important issues, how we will investigate facts surrounding the signing of the will, and what can be expected as we proceed.

A person need not be in perfect mental state to sign a will, but must know the “natural objects of one’s bounty” – the approximate value of one’s assets and whom he or she reasonably wishes to leave assets to.  Sometimes it is claimed that a person signed a will under duress or that someone exercised undue influence over the testator.  These claims, while different from saying the testator lacked capacity to make a will, may still raise similar issues, since a fully competent person is unlikely to be deceived by another person when making out a will.  We will compare the testator’s signature with other documents he or she signed, review circumstances of the will-signing, and look carefully at evidence of the testator’s medical condition.

You may be trying to probate a will in the face of a challenge from others, or you may be the person who wishes to challenge the will.  In either case, we will evaluate the factual landscape and determine how to proceed in the way that best protects your rights.

It is the lawyer’s job to simplify the probate process, not add layers of complication.  We will work to design a winning plan.  There are plenty of procedural requirement in law, and we’ll have to deal with them, but we’ll never lose sight of the fact that our goal is not legal procedure, but, rather, substantive results.

Some Facts About Wills and Probate

  • A surviving spouse cannot be disinherited.  But the spouse must move quickly because  those rights can be forfeited.
  • One can disinherit one’s children.
  • A missing will often leads to the conclusion that the will must have been revoked.
  • State law defines what constitutes a will.  Unless the document strictly conforms to that definition, the person’s intentions may amount to nothing.
  • If a person dies without a will, then assets that are in that person’s name alone will be distributed by a New York State formula.
  • Probate proceedings are done in the state in which the person last resided.
  • If real estate is owned in a different state, there will have to be an initial proceeding in New York and then what is known as an acillary proceeding in the other state.
  • Assets held jointly or with a designated beneficiary almost always pass automatically to that other person.
  • A convicted felon cannot serve as executor of an estate.
  • To make a will, a person doesn’t need to have full mental capacity, but, rather, must know the approximate value of his or her assets and the will must leave those assets to persons who the testator would naturally want to benefit.
  • A will may be challenged based on the alleged incapacity of the testator or based on another person’s undue influence.
  • To be valid, a will must be signed at the end and witnessed by at least two persons who do not share in the estate.

Preparing For Your Appointment

Bring with you as many documents as possible

These documents include:

  • Death certificate
  • The will (if there was one)
  • Copy of funeral bills
  • List of names and addresses of family members (including information about whether any family member is a minor)
  • List of assets owned by your family members

Mr. Haber can usually prepare the necessary papers quickly.  That means that quite often we can get the executor or administrator formally appointed by the court faster than you thought possible.

Payment Options

Probate work is usually done by the hour, but a variety of other approaches are also possible, including a flat rate, a payment plan, and in certain instances a percentage of the value of the estate.   Over the course of many years of practicing law, Mr. Haber has helped clients achieve their goals regardless of their finances.

Payments can be done by just about any method, including credit cards.

Ratings and Reviews

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