It is critical that you have a will prepared, in order to avoid the hardship involved with an individual passing away with no will. Continue reading to learn what can happen in that unfortunate situation, and reach out to our skilled New York estate planning attorneys.

What happens if I die without writing a will?

In the state of New York, if you die without a will, you are considered to have died “intestate”, which indicates the decedent did not have a will as of the date of death. In the event that this situation arises, the distribution of that individual’s property becomes a statutory determination set forth in the Estates Powers and Trusts Law. If someone dies without a will, the portion of the estate, which would normally pass through the probate process, if that individual died with a will, is set by law, and the decedent has no say in how the distribution of assets occurs. Any assets which are owned solely by the decedent, and do not have any named beneficiaries, are passed onto surviving heirs in a particular order.

It is critical that you craft a will with a skilled estate planning attorney to avoid this situation from occurring. Our legal team is equipped with the knowledge and experience required to ensure that you have an estate plan that is tailored to you and your family’s needs.

Who will my property be given to?

If an individual passes away without a will, his or her property will be given to his or her heirs in the following order:

  • Spouses: If the decedent was married but had no children, their spouse will inherit all property. If the family has a surviving spouse and children, the surviving husband or wife will inherit the first $50,000 plus half of the remainder of the estate. The children will then inherit the rest.
  • Children: If the decedent has living children but no spouse, the children will inherit everything. The state of New York requires that there must be a legal parent-child relationship in order for a child to inherit the assets. This means that the children must be either adopted children, biological children, children born outside of marriage (if a biological relationship is established), and children born after the decedent’s death. Stepchildren and foster children cannot inherit any portion of the estate unless they were legally adopted before the decedent’s death.
  • Parents: If the decedent was not married and had no children at the time of death, the parents will inherit the entire estate.
  • Siblings: If the decedent was not married, had no children, and had no living parents, the estate will be allocated to his or her brothers and sisters.
  • Grandchildren: Grandchildren will inherit only if their parent (the decedent’s child) has predeceased the decedent.
  • The government: If the decedent has no living family members, his or her property will go to the state of New York.

Contact our Firm

The Lauterbach Law Firm is proud to serve clients throughout Rockland County who are faced with legal matters related to estate planning, real estate, foreclosure defense, landlord-tenant law, business law, and criminal defense. If you require the services of an experienced team of attorneys, contact The Lauterbach Law Firm today to schedule a consultation.