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New York & North Carolina

Dying Without a Will in New York – Intestate Succession

Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC
One of the main purposes of writing a will is to give you greater control over what happens to your estate and to provide your loved ones with more reassurance and peace of mind when they need to handle your affairs. If you, or a loved one, dies without a will in New York, the estate assets will be distributed under state “intestate succession” laws, as outlined in, EPTL 4-1.1, rather than according to the wishes of the deceased.  Here are four important things to know about how intestate succession works in New York:

  1. Only assets that would have passed through your will are affected by intestate succession laws. Assets with a stated beneficiary such as life insurance proceeds and retirement accounts will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named.

  2. If you are married at the time you die intestate, your spouse will inherit everything if you and your spouse have no biological or adopted children together, and you have no children outside the marriage.

  3. If you are not married and do have children at the time you die intestate, your children will inherit everything. Grandchildren will only inherit if their parent dies before the decedent.

  4. 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.
You and your loved ones can avoid dying intestate by writing a will. However, writing a last will and testament without an attorney requires careful research of all related state laws to make sure the document is legal. Last wishes must also be written very clearly to avoid any doubt which could make the will invalid. The estate administration attorneys at Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC, provide full-service handling of estate planning, probate, and estate administration to clients residing in New York and North Carolina. If you have questions or would like more information about Wills or intestate succession in New York, please contact us at (914) 228-7448 or online.