If someone passes away without a will in New York, the assets of the estate must be distributed in conformity with the Rules of Intestate Succession. This kind of estate is considered an “intestate” estate, “intestate” meaning without a will.
New York's Rules of intestate succession provide that when a spouse and children are among the surviving relatives the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half of the balance, and the children inherit the remainder. In order to inherit as children, there must be a legally cognizable parent/child relationship. Therefore, unless the child is a natural child (including a child born outside of a marriage) or a legally adopted child, there is no inheritance. Foster children and unadopted step children do not inherit under the Rules of Intestate Succession. If there are no spouse or children, and the parents of the decedent survive, the parents inherit 100% of the estate. If there are no surviving children, spouse or parents, but there are surviving siblings, the estate is divided among the siblings.
During the administration of an intestate estate, an administrator must be assigned, which is similar in nature to an executor of an estate which is governed by a will. The “closest distributee” may file for administration. Steps can be taken, if the closest distributee does not wish to act, to transfer the right to be appointed as an administrator to the next surviving relative(s). Distributees who renounce the right to be an administrator do not denounce their inheritance.
We work with families and fiduciaries to make this process understandable and easy to navigate. If you would like more information about our estate administration practice, schedule an initial consult with us today or call us to speak with attorney. You can reach our White Plains office at (914) 214 9032 and our Brooklyn office at (718) 614 – 8739. We're waiting for your call, and we look forward to being your attorneys.