A will is an important document that directs the distribution of a decedent’s end of life assets. It is through a will that a New York resident may stipulate how much money, if anything, they want to leave to their kids and grandchildren, whether they will bequeath property to relatives or charities and if they will recognize friends and other family members with distributions of wealth. When a person dies without having a will in place, their estate may be subject to the intestacy laws of the state.

Dying intestate means that a person has died without a will. If this happens, probate courts will look at what relatives the decedent has as a guide for how their assets should be distributed. If a decedent had a spouse and kids, for example, the spouse would get a $50,000 distribution in addition to one-half of the remainder of the estate. The other half of the estate would pass to the decedent’s kids.

In a situation where the decedent has just a spouse or just kids and no surviving spouse, either of those parties would take their full estate. If a decedent died with no kids or spouse, their estate would pass up to their parents. If their parents did not survive them, then the decedent’s estate may pass down to their siblings.

Intestacy laws generally attempt to benefit close relatives of decedents, but they may run contrary to decedents’ wishes. Therefore, to protect one’s end of life plans for the distribution of their assets, a reader may want to talk to an estate planning attorney. This post is offered for information only and should not be used or read as legal advice.