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If There is No Last Will and Testament, Who Will Inherit Your Estate?

Last Will and Testament - If There is No Last Will and Testament, Who Will Inherit an Estate?When it is said that a person has died intestate, it means that they died without leaving a Last Will and Testament. A Last Will and Testament is among the documents we call, “the four must-have legal planning documents.” The other three documents include: Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, and Living Will.

The purpose of a Last Will and Testament is to express your wishes and identify who is to receive your property and assets upon your passing. It is imperative to complete a Last Will and Testament if you want to have a say on who receives your assets when you are no longer with us.

If a Last Will and Testament is not completed, the state has a set hierarchy for how your assets will pass:

If the Decedent has… then
a spouse (husband or wife) and no children the spouse inherits everything
children* but no spouse children inherit everything
spouse and children* the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half of the balance. The children* inherit everything else.
parents but no spouse and no children* the parents inherit everything
siblings (brothers or sisters) but no spouse, children*, or parents the siblings inherit everything
* If a child dies before the Decedent and had children of their own, then the Decedent would have grandchildren. Those grandchildren would step into the Decedent’s child’s place and inherit in place of the child.
no family at all the property will go to New York State


It is important to note that the laws of intestacy only govern assets that pass through your probate estate. A probate asset is an asset in an individual’s name alone, without a right of survivorship or beneficiary designation.

By consulting with an estate planning attorney, you can gain peace of mind knowing that your assets will pass to your desired loved ones. Contact us today to schedule a planning meeting!

(Chart from:

Marissa Kleiner
Russo Law Group, P.C.
100 Quentin Roosevelt Blvd., Suite 102
Garden City, NY 11530

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I found it interesting when you said that if there is no last will and a husband dies, then the wife inherits everything. My uncle wants to make sure that his wealth is divided in the same fractions when he passes. Thanks for sharing this article, I will suggest to him to think about a living will so that in case he wants to change his mind in the future, he would be able to do it.

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