When a person dies without a will, they are said to die “intestate.” When this happens, the court will administer a person’s estate according to the New York laws of intestacy. The distribution then depends on what family survived the decedent.
If a man dies and leaves behind a spouse and no children, the spouse inherits everything. If the man dies and has only children but no spouse, the children inherit everything. If there is a death with a spouse and children, the spouse inherits $50,000 plus half the balance of the remaining estate, while the children will receive the other half. If someone dies and there is no children or spouse, the property will go their closest relative(s). This would be parents (if alive) or siblings.
While this sounds straightforward, it can actually be quite complicated especially for those with non-traditional families. For instance, a man and woman may have separated years ago but never officially divorced. Even if these people have not spoken in years, their legal spouse would receive their share while their new partner would not necessarily be entitled to anything. Likewise, a person may have a child who is illegitimate or estranged. Even if the parent had no contact with this child, they would be entitled to a portion of the estate.
Even in a traditional family, division of assets can be difficult. A family may have heirlooms or items of sentimental value that can’t be easily divided. This can cause arguments and tension in even the strongest of families. By drafting a will and leaving certain assets to certain individuals and explaining the reasoning behind it, you can prevent these disputes amongst your family.
At The Law Offices of Seidner & Associates, our elder law attorneys have helped many families draft wills. It is important to work with an experienced lawyer on this because there is no going back once a person is deceased. Therefore it needs to be completely free of errors and accurately reflect the wishes of the testator. To learn more about drafting your will, contact The Law Offices of Seidner & Associates right away.