Your last will and testament or estate plan explain how your loved ones should hand out your property when you die. Some people tell their executor to sell off most of their assets and share the proceeds among their beneficiaries. Others will leave instructions to distribute specific assets to particular family members.
Those written instructions are what determine the inheritance of the people you love. What happens to your property if you die in New York without first creating an estate plan?
New York law dictates what happens if you don’t plan ahead
Your estate plan allows you to make your own wishes known to the courts and your family members. If you do not take advantage of that opportunity, then state law determines who inherits what from your estate.
Intestate succession laws help to protect those who are financially dependent on you. Your closest relationships determine the structure of the inheritance. Whether or not you are married, whether or not you have children and whether those children are also the children of your spouse dictate how the courts distribute property among your spouse and children.
If someone dies without a spouse or direct descendants, their other family members have inheritance rights in New York. Parents, grandparents and siblings can all inherit. More distant relatives may also receive your property if no one closer to you makes a claim. Eventually, if the state cannot locate family members, the state itself could receive your property.
Learning about what happens if you don’t make an estate plan can help motivate you to stop procrastinating and finally create one.