Dying Without A Will In New York

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New York, like other states in the nation, has a set of laws that apply to the situation where a person dies without a will.  This is known as the person dying intestate.  These intestacy laws are the rules and procedures for determining how to distribute the assets and property of the deceased when there is no will available.

The legal consequences of dying without a will can depend on a number of things including, how much property and assets the deceased had at the time of his or her passing and whether or not he or she has a surviving spouse and/or children.

While the New York rules for distribution will need to be applied to each case individually, the general rules are as follows:

  • If there is a surviving spouse and children, then the spouse will get fifty thousand dollars and one-half of the estate, while the children will receive the balance. 
  • If there is a surviving spouse and no children, the spouse will get all of the assets and property. 
  • If there are surviving children but no spouse, then the estate is divided between the children equally by representation.
  • If there is one or more surviving parent, but no spouse and no children, then the estate is given to parent or parents.
  • If the deceased has no surviving spouse, no children and no parents, then the estate is divided between any surviving siblings, by representation.
  • If there are no parents, children, spouse or siblings, but there are surviving grandparents and aunts and uncles, then half goes to the paternal grandparents or if they are not alive then to any of their children in by representation.  The other half will go to the maternal grandparents, unless they are not living then to any of their surviving children by representation. 

Under New York law half blood relatives are treated as if they were whole blood relatives and if a child was conceived before person dies but is born after, they will be treated as if they had been born in his or her lifetime.  You should also realize that before distribution can take place, reasonable debts of the deceased, costs of intestate administration and reasonable funeral expenses will be deducted from the estate.

Administering an estate without a will can be confusing without the help of an experienced estate attorney.  The best way to understand how these New York intestacy laws will apply to the estate of a person who has died is to consult a legal professional.  An estate lawyer can help you determine whether or not legal proceedings are necessary and can guide you through other matters that will need to be handled as part of the intestate administration.