Many people feel comfortable leaving important decisions up to others. You, and many other New York residents, may feel that your loved ones are capable enough to handle your final affairs after your passing without you having to create an estate plan. Though you may have trust in their abilities, you may need to remember that your family will likely not have the final say in what happens to your estate if you do not have a plan.
Dying without an estate plan is known as dying intestate. When this happens, rather than your loved ones having the ability to follow your instructions on how to handle certain affairs, the court and state law will determine what happens to your estate. As a result, your loved ones may be at a loss.
What will happen to your assets?
Though intestate succession laws vary from state to state, succession in New York would likely take place in the following ways:
- If you have a surviving spouse and children or other descendants, your spouse would obtain the first $50,000 of your probate estate. Regarding the remaining estate, your spouse would receive half, and the other half would go toward your descendants.
- If you have a surviving spouse but no children or other descendants, the entirety of the probate estate would go to your spouse.
- If you have children or other descendants but no spouse, your descendants would inherit the estate.
- If you do not have a spouse or descendants, your estate would pass to your parents, if they survive you.
- If your parents have predeceased you, your siblings and their descendants would inherit your estate.
- If you do not have parents, siblings or descendants of your siblings, half of your estate would go to your paternal side of the family and the other half would go to your maternal side of the family. In the event that one side of the family has no survivors, the other side would obtain the entirety of the estate.
- The possibility also exists that you could die without any family members. In such a case, the state of New York would obtain your estate.
While you may feel comfortable with the majority of these outcomes in general, what if you have a sibling that you no longer speak to? What if you have a child with whom you are estranged and have had no connection with for years? In such scenarios, you may not want those individuals to obtain anything from your estate. Having an estate plan can ensure that whatever you want to happen with your assets has a better chance of happening.
Consider your options
Most people want to have a say in what happens to their remaining estates, and creating an estate plan could help you have that say. You may want to explore your planning options to determine what tools could help you ensure that you make your wishes legally known.