Death and Taxes

a website by

Richard Bryan Attorney, P.C.

New York, NY

Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world nothing is certain except death and taxes
Benjamin Franklin

Probate and Administration of Decedent's Estates in New York

New York S-Corps, Partnerships and Limited Liability Companies

You don't need an attorney to probate the last will and testament of a friend or relative. If you can complete your own income tax return, then almost certainly you can figure out how to probate a will without the need of a lawyer, and for free. Free probate forms are available on this website, as well as free information and device to let you fill out the forms yourself. Forms and instructions are available on this website which will help you probate the estate of someone who died without the need to hire a lawyer.

Forming a New York Limited Liability Company, known as an LLC, or an S-Corporation, is not very difficult, and most people can get this done without the need to hire a lawyer. The procedures are forms and helpful guidance are included here at no cost. After an S-Corporation or LLC is formed, there are various other requirements, especially for New York City businesses. All this can be done for free, or at very low cost, and without the need to hire a lawyer.

Probate and Administration of Decedent's Estates


When a decedent dies and had a Last Will and Testament, the word ‘probate’ refers to proving to the satisfaction of the court that the Will is valid


If someone dies without a Last Will and Testament, that is known as ‘intestacy’ or ‘dying intestate’.  The process for administration are very similar to probate.

What is an Estate?

Whenever someone dies an estate is created automatically under the law, and has nothing to do with how much money or property a person had when they died.

Do you need a lawyer to probate a Will?

No.  There is no law which says you have to hire a lawyer to probate a will.  

A word about probate costs:

The word "probate" means "to prove." The goal of probate is to prove that a deceased person's "last will and testament" is not their "second-to-last will and testament," or a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and that the document was signed and witnessed according to law. Once these items, and some others, are proven to the satisfaction of the judge, the executor will receive "letters testamentary," which gives them the legal authority to follow the terms of the will and settle a decedent's estate.
The probate process is frequently ridiculed as an example of a malfunctioning legal system; an extraordinarily costly and time-consuming process with little relation to the fair and orderly administration of a decedent's estate. And there's no question that in many circumstances those criticisms of probate are justified. However in the majority of cases the probate process is reasonably quick and not so costly, and the fear of high probate costs are just not justified. UPDATE: during covid obviously the court systems were shut and slowed down. By the middle of 2022 the Surrogate's courts have still not fully recovered. Some experienced court employees took the opportunity to retire or move to other positions, and everyone is still getting used to the new electronic filing system, so right now there are significant processing delays. In the past, people could go to the courthouse and sit with a clerk and go over the paperwork, but you can't do that anymore.

Business Organizations in New York

What is a Limited Liability Company?

An LLC is a type of business organization formed under state law, and for some owners and businesses have advantages over S Corporations.  LLC’s can be taxed like partnerships, or like S Corps, or if owned by one person, the income from an LLC can be reported directly on the owner’s personal income tax return.

What is an S-Corp?

Corporations are created under New York State law; there is no such thing as a “federal corporation.”  Corporations, just like individuals, have to pay income taxes on their earnings.  Corporations are taxed by the IRS under either of two systems: Subchapter C, or Subchapter S. This is where the phrase “S Corp.” comes in.  S Corps are usually more beneficial for small business owners, because the S Corp’s income tax is paid by the owners at their individual tax rates, which are lower than corporate tax rates.

Anyone may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes.

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