There are plenty of New Yorkers who don't realize that they may need a NY estate attorney until it is too late. Perhaps a little primer on what happens when you die without a will is necessary for New Yorkers.
New York's Surrogate's Courts state that if you pass away without a will, it is called dying "intestate" in the state of New York. When someone dies intestate, that person's assets get distributed among surviving members of the decedents family according to New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law.
According to NY EPTL 4-1.1, if the decedent has a spouse but no children, then the spouse gets the whole of the estate.
If there is a spouse and children, then the decedent's spouse will receive the first $50,000 of the estate and one half of the property in the estate. The children inherit the rest of the estate.
If there are children of the decedent, but no spouse, then the children receive equal shares of the estate. Any children who pass away before the decedent will pass their share on to their own children (decedent's grandchildren).
If there are is no spouse, children, or grandchildren, then the decedent's parents and heirs (decedent's siblings, nieces and nephews) will inherit.
Sound confusing? Well intestacy can seem scary, but meeting with a New York estate planning lawyer can help. A NY estate attorney can help a family file a certified copy of the death certificate with Surrogate's Court along with essential documents such as an administration petition.
For more information, please visit our Related Resources links.
- Understanding Intestacy: If You Die Without an Estate Plan (FindLaw)
- No Will? Heirs Can Settle on Their Own (FindLaw's New York Estate Planning News Blog)
- Contact A NY Estate Attorney (FindLaw)