It may be important for New York residents to understand what happens when someone dies without a will. A will is a legal document that is written before a person’s death that dictates how that person would like their property to be divided after they die. When there is no will left by a deceased person, the state will then determine how to divide the remaining assets.
In New York, the assets of a person who died without a will are divided among the surviving family members in accordance with state intestacy laws. To begin this process, the family needs to visit the Surrogate’s Court in the decedent’s last county of residence. The family will have to present a certified copy of the death certificate, an administration petition and other documents.
When there is a will, the deceased person would have appointed an executor who is responsible for the disbursement of the assets and the payment of any remaining debts in the estate. When there is no will, one person will be named the estate administrator and take on the same responsibilities. If the deceased person had under $30,000 in assets at the time of their death, the filing fee in Surrogate’s Court is $1.
A deceased person could leave behind any number of assets and any number of family members to disperse those assets to. When there is no will to use as a guide, an estate administrator’s job becomes even more complicated. An estate planning attorney may be able to help a person who has been named as the administrator of an estate or as the executor of a will to perform their job lawfully and correctly.
Source: New York State Unified Court System, ” New York City Surrogate’s Courts “, September 10, 2014