It goes without saying that a great deal of emotion accompanies the death of a loved one in New York. Yet while most of that may be grief, there may also be a fair deal of tension felt amongst you and others who may stand to benefit from the decedent’s estate.

You may believe such tension to be unnecessary upon learning that your loved one died without a will, thinking that now you and other potential beneficiaries may determine how to divide their assets. Such is the assumption that many of those who come to see us here at Hall Ricketts Gurbacki, P.C. have. Unfortunately, in such a situation, that is not the case.

What happens when one dies without a will?

When one dies intestate (without a will), state statute (and not a decedent’s heirs) determines the distribution of the estate. Per the New York State Unified Court System, if your loved one left behind a spouse (but no children), their spouse inherits the entire intestate estate. If they had surviving children (but no spouse), the children inherit the estate. If they leave both a surviving spouse and children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 of the estate’s value, plus half of its remaining balance. The other half goes to the children (in equal portion). The next in line to inherit an intestate estate would be your loved one’s parents and siblings.

No non-relative allowances

You may notice that New York’s intestate succession guidelines make no allowances for parties not related to your loved one (such as friends, business associates or charitable organizations). Such parties have no claim to an estate (despite any verbal promises a decedent may have made) if no will exists detailing any benefits meant for them.

You can learn more about the estate administration process by continuing to explore our site.