When someone dies in Queens, NY, their assets are distributed according to their Last Will and Testament. But, what happens if the deceased didn’t make a will before they passed away? Who inherits the person’s property and money? Your experienced estate lawyer is here to guide you through the process of what happens when someone dies intestate.

From Your Local Estate Lawyer: Handling an Estate Without a Will in Queens, NY

When someone passes away without leaving a will, they died intestate. Without instructions as to who should receive what from the estate, the distribution of assets follows New York’s intestate succession laws.

How Assets Are Distributed

Under New York intestate rules, the property passes to the next of kin. First in line to inherit are the decedent’s surviving spouse and children. This includes any legally adopted children, as they receive the same status as biological children. In contrast, foster children, step-children who were never legally adopted, and biological children who were adopted out are not considered biological children and cannot inherit under succession laws.

The order of intestacy depends on relationship to the deceased.

Surviving Spouse With No Children

If the deceased was married but had no children, the entire estate passes to the surviving spouse.

Surviving Spouse With Children

When someone leaves behind a spouse and children, all assets are split. The surviving spouse receives $50,000 plus 50% of the remainder of the estate while the children split the rest equally.

Children, But No Surviving Spouse

When no surviving spouse exists, the estate is split equally between the decedent’s children.

Parents, But No Surviving Spouse or Children

If the deceased was unmarried and had no children, their parent or parents inherit all assets.

Siblings, But No Surviving Spouse, Parents, or Children

Siblings of the deceased are next on the list to inherit when there are no surviving parents, spouses, or children. The estate is split equally among the siblings.

No Close Relatives or Surviving Heirs

In the rare situation where no close relatives exist, the property passes to surviving grandparents and then down to aunts, uncles, and cousins. Both the maternal and paternal sides receive an equal share.

If someone dies intestate and leaves no living relatives, property escheats to, or ownership passes to, New York state.

Appointing an Executor

Whether someone dies testate or intestate, their heirs must file for probate at the Surrogate’s Court in the county where the deceased resided. When a will exists, this is done by the executor. In the absence of a will, the Surrogate appoints an heir as the administrator of the estate.

If there is no spouse, then the position passes to the children. Each child has an equal right to partition the court to be appointed administrator.

Going to Probate

Once the Surrogate’s Court has appointed an administrator, the matter is approved for probate and can progress along similar lines as the administration process when a will exists.

Settling a loved one’s estate isn’t easy, especially when they die intestate. New York law decides who inherits, whether those were the wishes of the deceased or not. If you have an interest in the estate of someone who has passed away without leaving a will, contact Joseph N. Yamaner and Associates in Queens, NY today for guidance on the legal process and help to ensure you receive the share of the estate you’re entitled to.