How to Avoid Probate in New York

How to Avoid Probate in New York

Probate court is a proceeding in which a deceased person’s assets and property are transferred to those named to inherit them. The probate process can be time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating. It’s wise to take action now to spare your family and friends the headaches if possible.

What are the Benefits of Avoiding New York Probate?

If you would like to have your family and loved ones have access to their inheritance more quickly, probate should be avoided. There are a number of benefits in avoiding probate, which include:

  • Saving your family added time and expense;
  • Ensuring that your personal and financial affairs remain private;
  • Having greater control of your assets.
  • Avoiding will contests from disgruntled relatives;
  • Eliminating the potential for Medicaid estate recovery; and
  • Providing for your wife and children if you remarried.

What are “Probate Assets”

Probate assets are property that belong to the decedent and are transferred to others via a last will and testament. To avoid probate, you should review your assets with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney to make certain they aren’t subject to probate proceedings and, as a result, pass outside of a will.

The following asset classes don’t pass through probate or estate administration in New York. The proceeds are transferred directly to the person named as beneficiary or joint owner of that account:

  • Life Insurance to a living beneficiary;
  • Uniform Transfer to Minors (UTMA) Accounts;
  • U.S. Savings Bonds with payable on death beneficiaries or joint ownership;
  • Investment accounts designated as Transfer-on-Death;
  • IRAs and 401(k)s in some situations;
  • Annuities;
  • Jointly-held bank accounts;
  • One automobile valued at up to $25,000 may be transferred by a family member;
  • Lifetime gifts; and
  • Corporate stock or LLC membership interests that are jointly-owned;
How to Avoid Probate in New York
A bank account with a named beneficiary is called a payable on death (POD) account. Those who set up POD accounts can keep these accounts and the money in them out of probate court when they die.

What are Some Tools to Use to Avoid Probate in New York?

Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney at Ely J. Rosenzveig and Associates about the best ways to avoid probate for your circumstances. This might include one or more of the following:

Living Trusts

One way to avoid probate is to transfer the ownership of your assets into a living trust. In New York, a living trust can avoid probate for a number of types of assets. A trust is an arrangement where you authorize a trustee to hold the legal title to your property for the beneficiaries.

Joint Ownership

You can avoid the probate process for any property that’s held in join ownership. For example, many of us have assets in joint ownership with another person, such as a spouse. The types of assets frequently held in joint ownership with others are homes, real estate, bank accounts, and other investments. A common form of joint ownership in New York is joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (JTWROS). Often, a family home owned by a married couple is held in this manner. Under this type of joint tenancy, the surviving spouse or other joint owner automatically receives the deceased’s property rights.

Payable-on-Death Designations for Bank Accounts

A person with an account or certificate of deposit at a bank can name a beneficiary who will inherit any money in the account after his or her death. A bank account with a named beneficiary is called a payable on death (POD) account. Those who set up POD accounts can keep these accounts and the money in them out of probate court when they die.


Consult with an experienced estate planning attorney at Ely J. Rosenzveig & Associates, P.C. about a comprehensive estate plan that can help you avoid probate. Spare your family the added stress, expense, and frustration when you pass away.

Contact an Estate Planning Attorney for New Jersey, White Plains and Westchester

Our firm’s principal partner, Ely J. Rosenzveig, has over 30 years of estate planning experience. He and his team of skilled attorneys are ready to help you create a comprehensive estate plan that’s tailored to your specific situation.

Call us at (914) 816-2900 or email [email protected].

Ariel S. Rosenzveig
Ariel Rosenzveig

Ariel S. Rosenzveig received his Juris Doctor from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in May, 2011, and has been practicing law with the firm since August, 2011. During his summers while in law school, Ariel interned with the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission in New York and with the Securities & Futures Commission in Hong Kong, China.

While in law school, Ariel served on the staff of the Cardozo Public Law, Policy & Ethics Journal, volunteered with the Cardozo Advocates for Battered Women, and participated in the National Institute for Trial Advocacy’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program. Prior to attending law school, Ariel worked as an arbitrage trader for a small proprietary trading firm on Wall Street. Ariel graduated summa cum laude from Yeshiva University in 2006.

Ariel is licensed to practice law in the states of New York and New Jersey, and is a member of the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA), NYSBA’s Elder Law section, and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). In June, 2015, Ariel successfully completed a certificate program in mediation through the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.

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