Intestacy / Intestate
If you die without a will in New York, your assets will go to your closest relatives under the decedent’s home state “intestate succession” laws. If you own property and assets, you may want to have a will drawn up by a qualified estate planning attorney. 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. The attorneys at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm 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.
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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.
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.)
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About the Website of The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm and the legal information on the screen above: We hope you find this information useful and informative, but it is not the same as legal counsel. A free website is ultimately worth everything it costs you; you rely on it at your own risk. This website and any other website on this legal topic does not substitute real legal advice, face to face with an attorney. Good legal advice includes a review of all of the facts of your situation, including many that may at first glance seem to you not to matter. The plan it generates is sensitive to your goals and wishes while taking into account a whole panoply of laws, rules and practices, many not published online. Speak with an attorney today to help resolve any legal issues that you and your family may be facing.
The lawyers at The Christine Thea Rubinstein Law Firm are dedicated to your success — so contact us. Speak with one of our knowledgeable Long Island will and estate planning, living trust estate litigation attorneys today from wherever you are in New York in Nassau and Suffolk, Brooklyn, Kings and Queens Counties, on Long Island and all New York City boroughs including Bronx, Westchester, Richmond County, and Manhattan. Call 800-200-1529 today.
Call 1-800-200-1529 today.
Get help with your Estate Plan now be properly prepared for your loved ones with the proper estate plan. You should know you have certain legal rights and must be very selective of the estate law lawyer or elder law firm that you chose to represent you with your estate litigation.
Call 1-800-200-1529 today.
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 and your family.