Fulton County, NY Inheritance Law

Gloversville, New York 12078

What New York Residents Need to Know About Inheritance Law

In New York, you can use summary probate procedures if the gross value of all personal property is less than $50,000, but that excludes all property that is "exempt" in New York. 

  • up to $20,000 worth of furniture and household items
  • one vehicle worth up to $25,000
  • up to $2,500 worth of books and other types of media
  • up to $25,000 worth of some farm animals and machinery
  • cash payments for funeral expenses, up to $25,000.

N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act § 1301 and EPTL § 5-3.1.

The New York Court System's self-help portal provides free tools to help handle the processing of small estates

Property avoidance tools such as Transfer on Death Deeds (TODDs) are not available for New York real estate, meaning that a living trust is the method to avoid probate for real estate when joint tenancy is not a good option.

New York also does not allow TOD for vehicles, unlike most other states.

Probate lawyers in New York seem to have a firm grip on preventing modern day money saving reforms such as these.

What Brings You Here?

Welcome to the fastest and easiest way to find out about Inheritance Law in New York.

Are you...

... an inheritor wondering how to get access to the deceased's property?
... named as an executor or trustee in a loved one’s will or living trust and you need to know how the probate process works, or
... planning ahead now, and want to learn how to avoid probate to make it easy for your loved ones to get your property after you die.

This site will provide you with tips and tools and checklists that you can use in New York to transfer property at death as quickly and affordablbly as possible. 

Six Things to Keep In Mind About New York Inheritance Law

Here are 6 things to keep in mind about probate and transferring property at death:

1. Much of your property never goes through probate or your will

You may not realize that, if your bank accounts or other accounts have a named beneficiary on file with the financial institution, that account will never pass through your will and will bypass the probate process. 

Many estates can avoid probate altogether, because assets will go to named beneficiaries because they are held as pay-on-death or  joint tenancy accounts, or in retirement accounts with a named beneficiary or life insurance, or the assets were held in a living trust, and whatever is left is small enough to fall under a state's small estates limit.

Property That Avoids Probate in New York

If you are a beneficiary or a joint owner "with right of survivorship" (WROS), you can typically claim the asset by dealing with the financial institution directly, and provide them with a death certificate and proof of your identity as a beneficiary.

2. Probate is governed by state law and is handled by the county court where the deceased person resided or owned property

If you haven't done so already, make sure you enter the zip code or at least select the state and county of residence for the person who died, to learn about the probate law and probate court procedure for that state and county.

Helpful Links


Fulton County, NY Probate Court Finder: Get details about Fulton County probate court. 

(You are currently looking at information for Fulton County, NY. Click here for information about Probate Court for Fulton County.)

If the Deceased Owned Property In More Than One State

If the deceased person owned property in more than one state, "ancillary probate" proceedings may be required in those other states, depending on how the property was owned. These extra hurdles can be avoided by some simple planning ahead.

3. Simplified New York Probate Procedures May Be Available to Transfer Property Quickly

For property that did not have a beneficiary designation or was not in a living trust, there may be "simplified probate" procedures or "small estate affidavit" procedures in New York for transferring certain kinds of property at death, which can avoid the cost and time of a full-blown court-supervised probate proceeding.


Small Estate Procedures in New York: Many states allow simplified procedures for small estates and certain kinds of property which can be transferred by a simple affidavit procedure if the value of the estate falls under a certain limit.

Property Transfer Affidavits: Most states have quick procedures for transferring property valued less than a certain amount, if all the heirs agree.

There is no Affidavit procedure in New York. But there's a summary probate procedure available for estates with a gross value of $50,000 or less. (Gross value here means you do not subtract the liens and encumbrances like mortgages). This figure excludes amounts that must be set aside for surviving family members and real estate. 

N.Y. Surr. Ct. Proc. Act 1301.

Forms available at www.nycourthelp.gov


Need Professional Help? Talk to a Probate Attorney

Want help handling your duties as an executor of a New York estate? Connect with a New York probate lawyer from the Nolo/Martindale network.


4. Even if there's no will, someone needs to start the probate process when someone dies

Regardless of the size of the estate, someone needs to start the probate process within a certain period after someone dies. If you were named the executor in the will, you are that person.

If there is no will, or no executor was named in the will, the court will appoint someone to be responsible for filing the necessary documents to complete the process of paying debts and taxes and funeral expenses from the estate and distributing property to beneficiaries.

If you are a beneficiary of a small estate, you may be able to claim your inheritance with a simple affidavit. (If there is no will,  beneficiaries are determined by the "intestate succession" laws in the state where the person is a resident.) 

Wills & Intestacy

  • Wills: What are they? Do I need one? What if someone dies without one?
    • Naming an executor.
    • Appointing guardians and property managers for minor children
    • Specifying how debts should be paid
  • No Will? Who Inherits if a Spouse or Parent Dies Without a Will in New York

5. Death & Taxes: Most estates do not need to file an estate tax return, but there are other kinds of year-end taxes to be paid when someone dies

Unless an estate is worth more than $13,610,000, it will not need to file a Federal estate tax return.



6. Creditors and taxes must be paid before you can inherit assets

  • The estate always must pay taxes before any other creditors can get paid. 
  • Debts that are secured by property, like mortages, are called secured debts, because if someone doesn't pay the loan, the lender can take the property. If you inherit a house, you also inherit the mortgage.
  • Unsecured debts, like credit cards, don't work that way -- as a beneficiary you are not responsible for that debt,
  • But the estate needs to pay all known creditors before distributing property to beneficiaries and heirs. Otherwise, a creditor can come calling to get paid back from estate assets, even after they've been distributed.
  • Most states have some sort of protection from creditors in the form of a “family allowance” and/or a homestead exemption


Fulton County, NY
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