Many adults know that they need to write a will as part of their estate plan so they have a say in who gets which assets. Some people might not realize that without that estate plan in place, assets are handed down to beneficiaries in accordance with New York’s intestate laws.
In New York, the intestate succession order is fairly simple. If you have a spouse but no children, the estate goes to the spouse. If you have children but no spouse, the estate is divided equally among the children. If you don’t have a spouse or children, the estate goes to your parents. Your siblings will share your estate if you don’t have parents, a spouse or children.
Individuals who have a spouse and children will have an estate that is split up a little bit differently. In this case, your spouse receives $50,000 off the top. They also get half of whatever remains. The other half of the remainder is divided between your children.
If you have a child who passes away prior to the distribution of the assets of the estate, even if they passed away prior to you, your grandchildren born to that child would share their portion of the estate. This is known as the assets being handed down per stirpes.
Most adults would probably prefer to outline their own plan for the distribution of assets when they pass away. Working with an attorney who’s familiar with this area of law can help you to ensure that your estate plan adequately reflects your wishes in a way that can be upheld by the court if that becomes necessary.