If you die before you have the chance to create a will, then your entire estate and all of your assets will enter intestacy. Intestacy is a legal process to which all of your assets are evaluated and distributed to next of kin as determined by the state. Intestacy law follows a specific path of checking for next of kin per item or asset. This path will differ state-by-state, as well. For the purposes of this article, we will be looking at New York State Intestacy laws (EPTL 4-1.1).

Your Spouse and Children

If you die while you are married without children, with the current New York state laws, your spouse will inherit everything. If you are married with children, then the spouse will receive the first $50,000 in assets, and then the rest will be split evenly amongst your children and your partner. Adopted children will inherit the same as if they were biological offspring. Any illegitimate children may claim a share if proof of paternity/maternity is shown.If your child has passed, but they have children of their own; those grandchildren may claim a right to your assets in their parent’s place.

If You Are Single

If you do not have a spouse, your assets will go to your parents, unless you have children. If you do not have children, and your parents have passed, your assets will move to your next of kin.

Dependent Children and Pets

If you have dependent children, or pets, you will not be able to properly control to whom they are sent to without a will. In order to place your children and/or pets under the care of someone who will truly care for them, you will need one.

Do Not Rely on Intestacy

You should never rely on intestacy laws. You should have a will drafted as soon as humanly possible. Without a will, there can be legal battles over assets, often resulting in more losses due to fees, than gains. Lawsuits amongst family can tear them apart.

For more than 40 years, our firm has been assisting people like you with long term care and estate planning needs. We bring you the knowledge and resources to protect you and your family. Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC do not provide tax, legal, or accounting advice by articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. Call 718.477.7700 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation with an estate planning attorney at Armstrong & Lamberti, PLLC. We proudly serve Staten Island, Brooklyn and the other boroughs of New York City.