New York Small Estate Affidavit Procedure

Every so often, I get questions in California about how to do a probate for someone who died but left very little or no assets. It got so frequent at one point that I made a video about it for my Youtube channel on the California process.

The idea of a summary — or quick — probate process for someone who left little or no assets is not unique to California. This post discusses the Small Estate Affidavit Process for New York. As an initial matter, though, I have to clarify that I do not take cases in New York because — while I have been licensed to practice law there since 2012 — New York also requires under New York Judiciary Law section 470 that lawyers maintain a physical office within the state of New York too. I don’t so I don’t take clients or cases there. I do, however, know plenty of lawyers all throughout New York so if I can make a referral to help you solve your problem or move your case forward, feel free to get in touch.

Because I don’t have an office in New York state, I have never done the NY Small Estate Affidavit Process myself so I have no first-hand experience to operate from. All of the below is simply due to my, ahem, excellent legal research skills.

Anyway, that said, the applicable law for the New York Small Estate Affidavit Process is New York Surrogate’s Court Procedures Act (NYSCPA) Section 1301 and onward. (That’s Article 13, in case you need an Article). The basic idea for the New York process is that:

California has special language for it’s affidavit in California Probate Code section 13101. New York has a standard form for it’s affidavit also, but it’s not pre-printed — in that you can’t just download it, fill in the blanks, and go. The NY Courts website has a wizard to help with the affidavit. It’s limited to pro bono attorneys and pro pers only, though.

As always, this post was meant to summarize a narrow point of law and was not meant to comprehensively address every person’s situation. If you have a topic or concern that I did not go over, consider finding a lawyer in your area to discuss it with face-to-face. Again, I don’t take cases in New York because I don’t have an office in New York state, but if you need a referral, feel free to get in touch and I’ll see if I can help.

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Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

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