Determining who “legally gets what” would have been provided with an effective will, as these are the decedent’s last wishes. In the event that one passes without leaving behind a will, dying “intestate” means the decedent loses the opportunity to control who will be the recipient of their assets. Intestacy laws, therefore, determine whether or not assets will be distributed to their legal partner, children, parents, siblings, or other relatives.
This can be done without discretion of the individual relationship between the decedent and that relative. Unfortunately, these relatives could possibly have had almost no contact, if any, with the decedent, making intestate succession an often unsatisfactory alternative. If the decedent did not take the time to draft a last will that clearly and concisely expresses their intentions regarding the disposition of their estate, anything can happen. Sentimentality will undoubtedly clash with practicality as relatives and families attempt to divide the estate and assets, and an unnecessary burden will be placed on all surviving relatives. In the event the decedent has no surviving relatives, the entire probate estate will escheat to the state of New York.