When your family member or loved-one dies without a Will, the laws of intestacy will control the distribution of his/her estate. If there is no valid Will when your family-member dies, your property that does not pass automatically by operation of law (such as joint bank accounts and life insurance proceeds) will pass according to New York State law – in particular pursuant to the Estate Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL). This statute makes assumptions based on how the State Legislature believes people would want their property to pass. So, in most cases, the surviving spouse and the children (in equal shares) of a deceased person will take his or her property as laid out in the statute – EPTL Section 4-1.1:
- If the deceased is survived by children and a spouse; then $50,000 and one-half of the residue to the spouse, and the balance thereof to the children (by representation)
- If the deceased is survived by a spouse and no children; the spouse takes the entire estate subject to the laws of intestacy
- If the deceased is survived by children but no spouse; the children take the entire estate, by representation
- If the deceased is survived by parents but no spouse or children; the surviving parent(s) will take in equal shares
- There are additional rules when the deceased is survived by no spouse, children, or parents…
If you need to distribute an Estate for a family member that has died without a Will, our law firm can assist you to petition the Surrogate’s Court for Letters of Administration – a document that will provide a person with the Power to act on behalf of the Estate and distribute the Estate in accordance with the statute. Our attorneys are ready to assist with the paperwork and notices you must provide to other family members. Please call our firm for assistance in administering an estate where a loved-one has died without a Last Will and Testament.