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What happens to your wealth when you pass away without a will?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Nothing in life is guaranteed, but how you manage your family and riches can be. If you have worked hard to acquire properties and significant assets, you understand the effort it took to get here. Such a huge feat makes estate planning far from a casual concern. So, why risk it all by not having a will when you pass away?

If you neglect to plan, there are potential consequences your estate and loved ones may have to face if you die without a will.

The state handles your assets

In New York, dying without a will leaves you “intestate.” This means the state’s intestacy laws take over and govern the distribution of your assets. Under these laws, your closest relatives stand to inherit your wealth first, starting with your spouse and children.

If you do not have a spouse or children, your assets could go to your grandchildren, parents, siblings or more distant relatives in that order. In the event that the state can’t locate any relatives, your assets eventually become state property.

The reality of passing away without a will

Without a will in place, your assets fall under the jurisdiction of New York’s intestacy laws. These laws might dictate decisions about your estate that do not reflect your personal desires. For instance, if you leave behind a spouse and no children, your spouse will receive all the wealth and properties you left behind.

However, if you are survived by both a spouse and parents, your spouse will receive the first $50,000 of your estate plus half of the remaining balance, with your parents receiving the rest.

If you leave behind underage children without an appointed guardian, the court will take on the responsibility of appointing one. This process can be lengthy and stressful; your loved ones may even argue over who will care for your children.

Seeking a professional to write your will

Clearly, dying without a will can lead to unanticipated complications. To prevent this, creating a comprehensive will is a prudent step. Seeking an attorney in this process can be beneficial. They can guide you in making informed decisions that truly reflect your wishes and cater to the needs of your loved ones.

Do not let the state determine the fate of your hard-earned wealth. Make your wishes known in a will to ensure your wealth passes on to future generations.