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Death without a Will: Intestate Administration in New York

Experienced attorneys serve Manhattan, Brooklyn Heights, City Island and Westchester

At The Cormac McEnery Law Firm, we believe that every person should have a will. A valid will allows the testator to decide how assets are to be distributed, and it facilitates a swift transfer of assets to beneficiaries who may be dependent on the testator’s bequest. When there is no will — or a court rules a will invalid — confusion, conflict, delay and unnecessary losses to the estate may follow. However, if your loved one has died intestate, you will need to take decisive steps to ensure that the estate is administered correctly with the least amount of delay.

Proceedings for an intestate administration in New York

When a person dies without a will, a representative of the distributees (those people eligible to inherit under New York law) files an Intestate Administration proceeding. This petitioner can be a distributee with priority, such as the surviving spouse or other eligible person, such as the decedent’s children. The petitioner must comply with requirements of the Surrogate’s Court, such as:

  • Present a death certificate.
  • Request a letter of administration granting authority over the decedent’s affairs.
  • Present a list of eligible distributees (the court may require the petitioner to supply a family tree and death certificates for deceased distributees).
  • Present letters of renunciation from eligible distributees who do not wish to act as administrators.
  • Present a court-required bond to cover the shares in the estate to other distributees, unless those distributees agree to a waiver.
  • Present a list of outstanding debts, including funeral expenses.
  • Pay the appropriate fee, which ranges from $45 to $1,250, depending on the size of the estate.

The court may require additional forms and affidavits. If you serve as an executor or administrator for a New York estate, you should seek the assistance of a capable estate attorney.

How New York intestate succession laws operate

While probate administration centers around a decedent’s will, estate administration follows the inheritance guidelines in New York’s intestacy law. For example, if a decedent has no children, the surviving spouse is entitled to inherit the decedent’s entire estate. If the decedent had children, the spouse receives the first $50,000, and the remainder of the estate is divided evenly between the spouse and the children, who receive shares equal to one another.

Talk to an experienced attorney for intestate administration

The Cormac McEnery Law Firm helps estate administrators overcome the challenges of working without a will to settle a loved one’s estate. To schedule a free consultation with an experience estate attorney, call 888.368.4329 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Brooklyn Heights, Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.