290 LINDEN OAKS, SUITE 200 ROCHESTER, NY 14625 TEL. (585) 203-1020

Ronald J. Axelrod & Associates, PC

Rochester NY Estate Planning Attorney

Your loved one has passed away - now what?

     Our firm has been helping clients administer and, if necessary, litigate their loved ones' estates for over forty years.  I am very fortunate to have a team of experienced paralegals to help me and you to make the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.  As our client, you are entitled to our undivided loyalty.  That means that we will work only for the estate's best interest and will keep the information you provide absolutely confidential.

     The deceased might have left a will or might have died without one.  When there is a will an executor named in the will is usually appointed by the Surrogate's Court to carry out the deceased's wishes.  If the deceased died without a will, the State of New York, by statute determines who gets what property.  The Court will then appoint an Administrator to preform the functions identical to those required of the Executor.  To begin, we must petition the Surrogate's Court for the appointment of either an executor or administrator to administer the Estate.

     The administration of the estate's assets is usually known as "probate", this is the judicial process referred to above whereby a will is "proven" in a court of law and accepted as a valid instrument for transferring the deceased's assets.   While the process of probate normally goes smoothly, the process can occasionally involve litigation, usually among conflicting family members who, for any number of reasons may allege that the will is not valid.

     The administration of an estate also includes administering the deceased's non-probate assets such as jointly owned property, life insurance and retirement assets (IRA's, 401k's, etc.).  Our focus in administering these assets is to minimize or reduce the subsequent income taxes the beneficiary of those assets may have when receiving or cashing them in.    


services we provide

The services that we normally perform in connection with the probate, administration and settlement of an estate include the following:

1.  We will provide the estate with all legal services necessary to the administration and settlement of the estate, including the administration and oversight of the transfer of all assets of the estate to the respective beneficiaries.

2.  We will appear at any Court date on your behalf related to your appointment for the estate.

3.  We will conduct interviews of any identified prospective witnesses we believe to be helpful to your cause and to reduce same to signed statements, sworn affidavits and/or court report transcripts, as we determine.

4.  We will obtain the Federal EIN for the estate.

5.  We shall open, oversee and manage all estate bank accounts, deposits to those accounts, check writing and account reconciliation and you, if you are appointed Executor, shall be the sole signor of all checks on such accounts.

6.  We will assist you with the identification, collection and proper valuation of the assets of the estate including checking the NYS unclaimed property lists.

7.  We will assist you with the liquidation of assets of the estate, including handling the sale of the deceased's primary residence located in New York State.

8.  If required, we will obtain a Release of Lien from the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance relating to any real estate accounts and the payment of all estate obligations.

9.  Upon completion of the administration, we will assist you in preparing a final accounting and obtain receipts and releases of liability and accountability from all beneficiaries.

10.  We will file all paperwork with the Surrogate's Court on your behalf.

11.  We will cover all aspects of estate administration and settlement except the preparation of the final income tax return of the deceased and the preparation of estate income tax returns during the administration.  However, we will submit a report to your accountant with all of the necessary information for his/her use in preparation of these income tax returns.


What if my loved one had a Living Trust or an Irrevocable Trust?

    If the deceased used a Living Trust or an Irrevocable Trust to plan their estate, the entire probate process may be avoided, but the estate, consisting of the Trust's assets and the retirements assets included in the trust must still be administered.  Assets that never get transferred into the Trust will have to be administered separately.  You will find that having your assets owned by a Living Trust, whether revocable or irrevocable, is a much faster, less expensive and non-public way of transferring your assets to the next generation or a charity.

It is our job to make the process flow as smoothly as possible for you and for your loved ones.  Choosing our firm means you are choosing to work with a team that will have the deceased's last wishes carried out with professionalism and care.