Without a valid will, also referred to as dying “intestate,” the deceased’s real estate may end up transferring to the State of New York. If an individual dies intestate and has no surviving family members, the Empire State may end up owning his or her property, as noted on NYCourts.gov.
The probate court generally attempts to find the deceased’s closest living relative. According to the New York State Senate’s website, an uncle, grandparent, blood relative or even a “half” sibling takes priority before the state transfers property ownership to its government.
New York’s intestate property distribution
A surviving spouse generally inherits all of a deceased’s assets when the couple does not have children. With a spouse and surviving children, the court divides property according to New York’s intestate succession law.
As outlined on the NY State Senate’s website, a spouse may inherit a $50,000 share of an estate’s total value. The deceased’s remaining assets divide equally in half between the spouse and biological children.
How the court may calculate an estate’s value
After death, the probate court obtains all titles and deeds of the deceased’s property to distribute them as prescribed by law. For example, when an individual dies intestate and the court calculates the estate’s total worth as $500,000, the spouse has a right to inherit $50,000 of its value.
In this example, the estate’s remaining value of $450,000 then divides in half, leaving the spouse an additional $225,000. The couple’s surviving children may then divide $225,000 equally between them. With five children each may inherit $45,000 of the estate’s total value.
To prevent the property from transferring in a manner contrary to an individual’s wishes, New York State requires a valid will. The benefits of a will include leaving property to any individual or organization the testator wishes and naming a representative to oversee probate.