If You Pass Away Without a Will

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, August 28, 2023

If you are to die without taking the time to create a Will, there are procedures in place to handle your estate. Without a Will, your entire estate and all of your assets will enter intestacy. Intestacy is a legal process by which all of your assets are evaluated and distributed to the next of kin, as determined by the state. Intestacy law follows a specific path of checking for next of kin. This path can 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 pass away while you are married without children, under 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 value of assets as any biological offspring. Any illegitimate children may claim a share if proof of paternity/maternity is shown to be valid. If any of your children have passed, but they have children of their own; those grandchildren may claim a right to your assets in their parent’s place.

Intestacy Laws For Single People

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 as determined by the state. This usually includes siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins.

Your Dependent Children and Pets

If you have dependent children or pets, you cannot control to whom they are sent 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. Generally, dependents will be moved to the next of kin (usually a parent or grandparent). But it is up to the state to decide. This choice may not reflect your wishes. 

Do Not Rely on Intestacy

Overall, you should never rely on intestacy laws. You should get a Will drafted as soon as humanly possible. Without a Will, your loved ones may start legal battles over assets, often resulting in more losses due to fees, than gains. Lawsuits amongst families can tear them apart. While a Will does not guarantee that your assets will not enter Probate court, it does reduce that risk. The best way to reduce this risk is to draft a Will. Then, be open and honest with your loved ones about your wishes while you are still alive. This way, they can address concerns and work with you to make decisions that benefit the whole family as you see fit. If you foresee additional complications, talk with your attorney about implementing No-Contest clauses in the Will.

Matthew Funeral Home does not provide legal or financial advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for legal or financial advice. Consult with a professional estate-planning attorney for more information.
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

Leave a comment
Name*:
Email:
Comment*:
Please enter the numbers and letters you see in the image. Note that the case of the letters entered matters.

Comments

Please wait

Previous Posts

Grieving Pets

When a loved one passes, every member of the family is affected, even your pets. Dogs, cats, and other family pets can experience grief and can even mourn for a loved one. Below, we will discuss gr...

Grief and Dealing With Suicide

When faced with the loss of a loved one, the grief can be devastating. But when a loved one takes their own life, the grief that families feel afterward can often be complicated. According to the A...

Sunlight and Combatting Grief

As the weather gets warmer and summer is on the horizon, it is time for many people to schedule vacations and weekend outings. For people dealing with grief and depression, it may seem difficult to...

Grief and Selfishness

Grief is a complex emotional state. For many people, grief can bring out different sides of us. And while grief is not an excuse to act out, or be a bad person, it can often be a defense mechanism....

The First Mother's Day Without Her

Mother’s Day is a time we celebrate those who devoted their lives to caring for us, and for bringing us into the world. But it can also be a solemn reminder after the passing of your mother. The lo...

Can I be Both Cremated and Buried?

While most people assume you have to choose between burial or cremation at the end of life, there are more options available. One is to choose both. You can choose burial and cremation together. Be...

Retiring In Stages

Retiring at 65 has been a common aspect of the American lifestyle for generations, but full retirement at that age may not be in the cards for everyone. With costs of living consistently on the ris...

Funeral Planning for the LGBTQ+ Community

When it comes to end-of-life services, it is important to have a plan in order. This can be especially true for many LGBTQ+ people. In the event of your passing, your wishes should be upheld for yo...

Identifying Signs of A Stroke

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the US, killing 1 person in America every 3.5 minutes. The risk of stroke can increase as you age. For the safety of you and your loved ones, it is important t...

Donating Your Body To Science

Body donation is a process that very few Americans decide to participate in. But, it is a practice that can lead to advances in medical science, improved medical training procedures, and more. This...