The steps to probate or administer an estate yourself without a New York estate lawyer are:
STEP #1: Read the free NY Executor’s Legal Survival Guide: to learn the duties as a NY executor or administrator.
STEP #2: Find information about the New York Surrogate’s Court in the county where the person died.
STEP #3 Check WebSurrogate to determine whether an estate has already been opened or whether the court has the will in safekeeping.
STEP #4 Determine whether there are any nonprobate assets which can be accessed without the necessity of an executor or estate administrator filing documents with the Surrogate’s Court.
The seven ways to probate or administer a New York estate yourself (DIY) without a New York lawyer, including free forms, are.
Small Estate Affidavit – DIY Forms | NY CourtHelp (nycourts.gov) can be used if the decedent (the person who died) had $50,000 or less in personal property and owned no real estate in his or her name alone. You will need the following information with you when you use this program:
- The name and address of the decedent.
- A certified copy of the death certificate.
- The name and address of the decedent’s husband or wife, children, and grandchildren.
- If the decedent does not have a spouse, children or grandchildren, the name and address of the decedent’s father and mother.
- If the decedent’s parents are no longer living, the name and address of the decedent’s siblings.
- If the decedent’s siblings are no longer living, then the name and address of the siblings’ children.
- If none of the above family members of the decedent are living, then the name and address of any aunt or uncle of the decedent.
- The original Will, if the decedent had a Will.
- The name and address of people mentioned in the Will.
- If the decedent had assets, the value of each asset. You will need account numbers and serial numbers of assets. Assets may include the following:
- Bank accounts (not joint accounts)
- Investment accounts
- Insurance policy with no beneficiary
- Cars and boats
- The decedent’s unpaid creditors, who may include the following: · Credit card bills · Utility bills · Funeral expense.
Safe Deposit Box Petition Program is a free and easy program that will ask you questions to prepare a Petition and Proposed Order with instructions on what to do next. These documents will ask the Surrogate’s Court to authorize you to see what is in a safe deposit box and to look for a will, a burial plot deed, and insurance policies and to make a list of what is inside the box.
New York MV -349,1 can be used to transfer the vehicle of a deceased person when there is no will, estate, surviving spouse or surviving minor child, and the vehicle is worth $25,000 or less.
New York DMV | mv349.pdf (ny.gov) can be used to transfer a vehicle owned by a deceased person to a surviving spouse or to a child or children under age 21, if the vehicle is worth $25,000 or less
A. Can be used by:
- The surviving spouse of the decedent may collect up to $30,000.
- The surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces and nephews or a creditor who has paid the funeral expenses 30 days after death, may collect up to $15,000.
- Distributees or a person that paid for the decedent’s funeral 6 months after death, distributees or a person that paid for the decedent’s funeral may collect up to $5,000. Examples of distributees are grandchildren, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
B. To collect the following :
- money or securities payable on account of a deposit in a bank,
national bank, trust company, branch of a foreign banking corporation, savings bank, industrial bank, state or federal savings and loan association or state or federal credit union or with a private banker, or funds or securities invested with, held by or deposited with a broker-dealer or with, by or in securities of a management type investment company or trust payable or returnable to, or to the estate of, or to a beneficiary designated by, the depositor or(ii) money payable by a state or federal savings and loan association
or state or federal credit union to, or to the estate of, or to a
beneficiary designated by, a member on account of the withdrawal value of his shares or(iii) money payable by an insurance company or a savings bank
authorized to conduct the business of life insurance under an annuity or pure endowment contract or a policy of life, group life, industrial life or accident and health insurance or a contract made by such an insurer, relating to the payment of proceeds or avails thereof, to, or to the estate of, or to a beneficiary designated by, the owner or the person purchasing the annuity or the person insured or the person effecting the insurance or the person effecting the supplemental contract or(iv) money payable by a public corporation, a state or the federal
government or an agency thereof, to, or to the estate of, or to a
beneficiary designated by, any natural person or(v) a pension or retirement or death benefit, profit share, earnings,
wages, salary or bonus payable by an employer or by a pension,
retirement or profit-sharing plan or system to, or to the estate of, or to a beneficiary designated by, an employee, or(vi) a balance of money due on an accepted claim or account payable, on account of dividends payable by the superintendent of financial services in liquidation of bank assets, to, or to the estate of, or to a beneficiary designated by, a depositor or(vii) any personal property deposited with a county treasurer by a
coroner or county medical examiner pursuant to sections 785 and 786 of the code of criminal procedure, or
(viii) any personal property on deposit with a hospital, nursing home, residential health care facility or out-patient lodge described in section twenty-eight hundred one of the public health law at the time of the death of a decedent that is payable or returnable to the estate of the decedent;
C. The SCPA 1310 forms are available here:
Unclaimed Funds SCPA 1310 Affidavit
Federal Credit Union SCPA 1310 Affidavit
Teacher’s Retirement System of the City of NY SCPA 1310 Affidavit Form
WARNINGS: Although you may probate a will yourself, we strongly advise against preparing a will yourself. To have a will drafted for you, complete our Will Intake Form. The above procedures can be used only when an administrator or executor has not been appointed by the Surrogate’s Court.
Representatives who are not court-appointed must include Form 1310, Statement of Person Claiming Refund Due a Deceased Taxpayer to claim any refund. Surviving spouses and court-appointed representatives don’t need to complete this form.Use this form to cash a NYS Tax refund check