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Dying Intestate in New York

What does “dying intestate” mean? – Dying intestate under New York law means that a person has died without having a will that is considered valid under New York law. When someone dies without a valid will in New York, generally the surviving spouse or another family member must commence an Administration proceeding by petitioning for Letters of Administration with the New York Surrogate’s Court in order to request the appointment of an administrator of the decedent’s estate. Under New York law, an administrator of an estate can be any person over the age of 18 years of age, but a preference is given to the surviving spouse. If there’s no surviving spouse, preference is given to other family members.

What happens when someone dies intestate? – Under New York probate law, when a person dies intestate, the surviving spouse is entitled to inherit all the decedent’s property if there are no children. If the decedent has children, then the surviving spouse gets the first $50,000 and half of the estate, and the remaining half goes to the decedent’s children. When there is no spouse and no children, then the property may go to the decedent’s parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles or other family members. If there is no family, then the decedent’s assets go to the State of New York.

Why making a will is better then dying intestate – When a person dies intestate, this may delay the distribution of their assets. The decedent’s family may incur additional costs related to the intestate proceedings. In order to avoid dying intestate, it is recommended that a person make a will. This way, the testator knows that their wishes will be carried out and their assets will be distributed to the heirs they have chosen to receive them. Otherwise, when a person dies intestate in New York, the New York probate statutes dictate how the decedent’s property will be transferred to the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries. The decedent loses control of the disposition of the decedent’s assets. So if a person wishes to disinherit an heir or leave money to a friend or make a charitable donation, the only way to assure that this is done is to make a will. The State of New York has no way of knowing a decedent’s intentions without a will.

Since intestate matters can be complex, especially if the estate is large and there are substantial assets, it is recommended that the heirs contact a New York Probate Attorney to assist with the administration of the estate, including Court filings and attending Court hearings and proceedings.
If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (212) 233-1233.