Call Us Today: 1-800-960-1LAW

Intestacy / Intestate

If you die without a will in New York, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws. If you own property and assets, you may want to have a will. That way you decide who you want to give ownership, of your assets to rather than having your state government, deciding who gets your property and assets when you die. In most cases, wills are written legal documents, but some states do recognize other types of wills. The legal requirements of each state can vary, so it’s essential that your will is drafted and executed properly. Our attorneys are not only trained in handling simple estate and probate matters, we take care of complex estate litigation in the event of probate, a will contest or estate fraud in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Bronx, Westchester, Richmond County, Manhattan and Brooklyn Kings County New York.

Here are some details about how intestate succession works in New York.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession

Only assets that would have passed through your will are affected by intestate succession laws. Usually, that includes only assets that you own alone, in your own name.

Many valuable assets don’t go through your will, and aren’t affected by intestate succession laws.

Here are some examples:

  • Property you’ve transferred to a living trust
  • Life insurance proceeds
  • Funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account
  • Securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • Payable-on-death bank accounts, or
  • Property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.
Trust vs WillsRemoval of a Trustee * Guardianship * Probate * Beneficiary Rights
Medicaid Asset Protection * Probate Litigation * Estate Litigation * Living Trusts
In Home Care * Supplemental Needs Trusts  * Fraudulent Transfers

These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will.

Who Gets What in New York?

Under intestate succession, who gets what depends on whether or not you have living children, parents, or other close relatives when you die. Here’s a quick overview:
If you die with _(see below)_: here’s what happens:

  • Children but no spouse
  • Children inherit everything
  • Spouse but no descendants
  • Spouse inherits everything
  • Spouse and descendants
  • Spouse inherits the first $50,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance
  • Descendants inherit everything else
  • Parents but no spouse or descendants
  • Parents inherit everything
  • Siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents
  • Siblings inherit everything
The Spouse’s Share in New York

In New York, if you are married and you die without a will, what your spouse gets depends on whether or not you have living descendants — children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren. If you don’t, then your spouse inherits the first $50,000 of your intestate property, plus 1/2 of the balance

Children’s Shares in New York

If you die without a will in New York, your children will receive an “intestate share” of your property. The size of each child’s share depends on how many children you have and whether or not you are married. (See above.)
For children to inherit from you under the laws of intestacy, the state of New York must consider them your children, legally. For many families, this is not a confusing issue. But it’s not always clear. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Will the State Get Your Property?

If you die without a will and don’t have any family, your property will “escheat” into the state’s coffers. However, this very rarely happens because the laws are designed to get your property to anyone who was even remotely related to you. For example, your property won’t go to the state if you leave a spouse, children, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, great uncles or aunts, nieces or nephews, cousins of any degree, or the children, parents, or siblings of a spouse who dies before you do.

Other New York Intestate Succession Rules

Here are a few other things to know about New York’s intestacy laws.

  • Half-relatives. “Half” relatives inherit as if they were “whole.” That is, your sister with whom you share a father, but not a mother, has the same right to your property as she would if you had both parents in common.
  • Posthumous relatives. Relatives conceived before — but born after — you die inherit as if they had been born while you were alive.
  • Immigration status. Relatives entitled to an intestate share of your property will inherit whether or not they are citizens or legally in the United States.
  • Joint tenant convicted of murder. One joint tenant who is convicted of murdering another joint tenant is not entitled to inherit any money in the joint tenants’ bank account. The convicted joint tenant is entitled only to any money that the convicted joint tenant contributed to the account. (New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law § 4-1.6.)
Get Help With Your Estate Plan Now

Call today 1-800-960-1529

Be prepared if a loved is going into a nursing home or already resides in a nursing home
You should know you have certain legal rights and must be very selective of the Lawyer or Law Firm that you chose to represent you.

Have an Attorney council you on the Right Decision for You.

Trust vs WillsRemoval of a Trustee * Guardianship * Probate * Beneficiary Rights
Medicaid Asset Protection * Probate Litigation * Estate Litigation * Living Trusts
In Home Care * Supplemental Needs Trusts  * Fraudulent Transfers

REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION

Fill out the below to receive a free and confidential intial consultation.