Estate planning is important for everyone. Things don’t just take care of themselves after you die. If you die without an estate plan in Smithtown New York, you will have died intestate. You may not be very happy with the way that your property is distributed if you do in fact die intestate in Smithtown New York.
If you don’t leave behind a last will or any other type of estate planning document to arrange for the transfer of your assets the condition of intestacy will result.
It will be up to the Surrogate’s Court to decide what happens to your property. The court will use the intestate succession laws of the state of New York as a guide.
In a general sense, your property will go to your next of kin. Whom that is going to be will vary depending on the dynamic of your family.
If you are married and you have no children, your spouse will be your sole heir under these intestate succession rules. If you are married and you have children, your spouse would receive the first $50,000 of your probate estate. He or she would get half of the balance, and your descendants would split the other half.
If you are not married but you do have descendents, your descendents would inherit everything. If you pass away intestate without a spouse or descendents, your parents would be your rightful heirs if one or both of them are still alive.
Your siblings would inherit everything if you do in fact have siblings but no spouse, descendents, or living parents.
There is an interesting intestacy case that is actually still playing itself out in the state of New York. In 2012 a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor name Roman Blum died in possession of an estate worth some $40 million. He was a successful real estate investor who had accumulated quite a fortune.
He could have had it all, but one thing that he did not have was a last will or a trust. He died intestate.
Blum had friends and an attorney who advised him, so he was aware of the fact that he should have a will. For whatever reason, he never took action.
We explained the intestate succession rules in the previous section. They spell out who gets what if you have family members still living. In the case of Roman Blum, no living blood relatives have been found.
Escheat laws come into play under these circumstances. The state has empowered a personal representative to use estate resources to engage genealogists in an effort to find a living relative.
If this effort fails to bear fruit within three years of Blum’s passing, the state of New York will absorb the $40 million.