Probate is a process which validates and pronounces Last Will and Testament of Individual as valid and effective for purposes of estate administration and asset distribution. If you have had a loved one pass away recently, you may have found that their Will has to pass through probate court before debts of the decedent?may be paid and the remaining assets of the decedent may be distributed to the beneficiaries. Depending on the size and complexity of the estate itself, this process can take anywhere from few weeks to several years. If you are a beneficiary of the estate, or involved in it in any other way, it is important to understand what to expect and to have the help you need. Probate process includes several steps. This will provide you with an outline of what to expect while this event is taking place. • Petition – When an original Will of the decedent is discovered by the surviving spouse or children, the probate process will begin by filing a probate petition with the probate court. When this occurs, all heirs and beneficiaries must also be notified that a court hearing will take place. If at a later point later Will is discovered by someone else or if there are allegations of the fraudulent activity, the actual Will or a Will produced under undue influence, the objection to probate will be filed with the court and this will lead to a hearing. • Notifying Creditors – New York has laws on how creditors are notified of the decedent’s death and how such creditors must go about presenting claims to the executor. The estate fiduciary has an obligation to dispute all claims, except properly owed, legally enforceable obligations. • Inventory & Valuation – All assets within the estate need to be identified and their value must be established using prescribed methods of valuation. This will be handled by the representative of the estate, Executor or Administrator. • Distribution of Assets – Once all debts have been paid, all remaining assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries of the estate or trusts will be funded. This is done according to the provisions of the Will or Revocable Trust, if there is one.