What Happens if I Die Without a Will?

The short answer is “Intestacy” – an overly fancy word meaning to die without a Will. In New York State, if you expire without a properly executed and enforceable Will in place your assets and estate pass according to statute (EPTL § 4-1.1 to be exact). In summary, the statute works as follows:

  1. If you have no children, but are married, everything goes to your spouse.
  2. If you are married and have children, then your first $50,000 goes to your spouse then the remaining assets are split among your spouse and children.
  3. If you have no spouse, then everything goes to your children.
  4. If you have no spouse or children then everything goes to your parents.
  5. If your parents are deceased when you die then everything is split among your siblings and/or nieces and nephews.
  6. If you have no siblings, then everything goes to your grandparents with half going to each side (50% maternal and 50% paternal). If your grandparents are deceased at the time that you die then that side’s share is split among your aunts and uncles or first cousins.
  7. If you have no surviving first cousins then your estate is split among your first cousins once removed.
  8. Finally, if you have no first cousins once removed living when you die then your assets go to New York State.

For many reasons, this may not be your plan. It does not provide for any asset protection or possible tax shelters. It does not allow for bequests to charities, religious organizations or close friends. It is always preferable to have a Will so that your last wishes are known to the world after you pass. If you need a Will and do not want your estate to pass by intestacy, CLICK HERE to contact Margie Vella or Aaron Carbone and schedule a consultation today.