New York Intestate Estates Leave Families without a Voice in Settling your Estate

The New York Times reports that the number of people who are dying intestate — without a Will — is growing, possibly leaving counties to manage everything from house trailers to horse farms and sometimes putting estates at the mercy of government bureaucracy instead of in the hands of loved ones.

A New York City probate lawyer can assist residents with Wills or estate planning and can help ensure that a person’s estate is properly distributed at the time of their death. Leaving behind an unplanned estate can subject your assets to excessive taxation, a lengthy probate process, additional fees and other consequences. Also, your estate will be divided in accordance with New York law, regardless of your wishes.
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Those who die without a Will, under New York law, will typically have their estate divided as follows:

-The first $50,000 to the spouse and one-half of the remainder. The balance will be split among the children.

-In the absence of a spouse, the estate will pass to the children.

-To the parents, if no surviving spouse or children.

-To siblings if no spouse, children or parents.

-In the absence of the above relatives, the estate would pass to grandparents, aunts or uncles, or other relatives in outward concentric circles.

Without proper planning, the estate may be administered by a government official called a Public Administrator. A kinship hearing may also be needed to determine the decedent’s heirs.

An estimated 65 percent of American adults do not have a Will. As one person in the Times article put it, “Baby boomers don’t think they’re going to die until they are 90.”

The truth of the matter is that dying without a Will, or without any sort of estate planning, can be a tremendous burden for surviving relatives. Conversely, many who take the time to consult with a New York City probate attorney experience tremendous relief at having their affairs in order. They can enjoy life with the security and peace of mind that comes with knowing that their affairs are in order.


New York City Estate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, including Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, contested wills and intestate matters. Please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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