Dying without an estate plan can cause a lot of stress for your family. If you had some ideas about how you would pass down your assets, too bad. The choice will be made for you in court. This is why making a plan is an absolute necessity. We tell our clients all the time to make it a priority. If you are curious about what happens if you do not heed our advice, read on. Then schedule your appointment with a Rockland County estate planning attorney and make sure that your family avoids these headaches.

Does My Family Have to Go to Probate Court if I Die Without an Estate Plan?

When you die without an estate plan, many of your assets will end up passing through intestate succession. State laws and the judge at probate court will decide who gets what. That means that people do not get to fight over your estate, but that also means that any ideas you had about passing down specific assets to specific people have gone up in smoke.

Some accounts may have required you to add a beneficiary so that those assets have somewhere to go after you pass away. Life insurance policies and retirement accounts are good examples here. Even if you do not have a will, they should go to a beneficiary that you have named. This is also true of anything that has a “transfer-on-death” or “payable-on-death” clause. This can include certain types of bank accounts, securities, vehicles, and real estate.

Anything that does not already have a named beneficiary has to go through probate. There are some state laws in place to determine which relatives have priority when it comes to inheriting assets from your estate.

Who Gets My Assets Under New York Intestacy Law?

Under New York intestacy law, the relatives who get first priority are the children and the spouse of the deceased. If there is a spouse, but no children, the spouse gets everything. If there are children, but no spouse, then the children get everything.

If you die without an estate plan and you have a spouse and children, they do not have to fight for your estate. There are rules in place for this. Your spouse will get the first $50,000 share of any intestate property. Then they get half of the balance. Your children get everything else.

In cases where someone passes away without children or a spouse, their parents get everything. If their parents are no longer around, siblings inherit everything.

Talk to an Estate Planning Lawyer

When you are ready to make your own estate plan, contact the Lauterbach Law Firm. Estate plans are not just for the rich. We can help you make a plan whether you just have a few assets to pass down or you want to make use of tools like trusts. Talk to our experienced attorneys today.