New York Law for Intestate Succession
When there is no will to name an executor, it’s said that they died intestate. When a person dies intestate, that person’s property is distributed according to New York law (EPTL 4-1.1).
What each living relative receives depends on their relationship to the deceased, also called the “Decedent”. When there is no will, the family members entitled to a share of the estate are called “distributees”. New York law provides the following :
The property of a decedent not disposed of by will shall be distributed as provided in this section. In computing said distribution, debts, administration expenses, and reasonable funeral expenses shall be deducted but all estate taxes shall be disregarded, except that nothing contained herein relieves a distributee from contributing to all such taxes the amounts apportioned against him or her under 2-1.8. Distribution shall then be as follows:
(a) If a decedent is survived by:
(1) A spouse and issue, fifty thousand dollars and one-half of the residue to the spouse, and the balance thereof to the issue by representation.
(2) A spouse and no issue, the whole to the spouse.
(3) Issue and no spouse, the whole to the issue, by representation.
(4) One or both parents, and no spouse and no issue, the whole to the surviving parent or parents.
(5) Issue of parents, and no spouse, issue or parent, the whole to the issue of the parents, by representation.
(6) One or more grandparents or the issue of grandparents (as hereinafter defined), and no spouse, issue, parent or issue of parents, one-half to the surviving paternal grandparent or grandparents, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation, and the other one-half to the surviving maternal grandparent or grandparents, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation; provided that if the decedent was not survived by a grandparent or grandparents on one side or by the issue of such grandparents, the whole to the surviving grandparent or grandparents on the other side, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation, in the same manner as the one-half. For the purposes of this subparagraph, issue of grandparents shall not include issues more remote than grandchildren of such grandparents.
(7) Great-grandchildren of grandparents, and no spouse, issue, parent, issue of parents, grandparent, children of grandparents or grandchildren of grandparents, one-half to the great-grandchildren of the paternal grandparents, per capita, and the other one-half to the great-grandchildren of the maternal grandparents, per capita; provided that if the decedent was not survived by great-grandchildren of grandparents on one side, the whole to the great-grandchildren of grandparents on the other side, in the same manner as the one-half.
(b) For all purposes of this section, the decedent’s relatives of the half-blood shall be treated as if they were relatives of the whole blood.
(c) Distributees of the decedent, conceived before his or her death but born alive thereafter, take as if they were born in his or her lifetime.
(d) The right of an adopted child to take a distributive share and the right of succession to the estate of an adopted child continue as provided in the domestic relations law.
(e) A distributive share passing to a surviving spouse under this section is in lieu of any right of dower to which such spouse may be entitled.
Filing an Estate Proceeding
If there is no Will, generally, the “closest distributee” can file for administration or small estate. If the closest distributee does not want to administer the estate, they can sign a renunciation and waiver.