When a person dies without a Last Will and Testament he is said to have died intestate. In these cases the decedent’s estate is distributed pursuant to the laws of intestacy. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) section 4-1.1 entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate”, provides the list of persons who are entitled to receive a share of the intestate estate. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains many articles discussing estate administration.
If kinship is not difficult to determine, the priority list of beneficiaries under EPTL 4-1.1 controls estate distribution. When a person dies without a spouse or children, his distributees are his parents. However, under EPTL 4-1.4 entitled “Disqualification of parent to take intestate share”, a parent can be prevented from receiving his share of a decedent’s estate if he either fails or refuses to provide for a child or abandons the child. Thus, if the parent does not support a child he can lose his inheritance. An abandonment qualifies for the same result.
While instances of such disqualifications are not common, there are cases where the parent forfeits his rights. In a Bronx estate case entitled Estate of Umezurike decided on September 9, 2019 by Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez, a father was found to have been disqualified from receiving his share of proceeds from a wrongful death action when his son died.