Ronald Fatoullah & Associates - Elder Law

Who becomes involved if your loved one dies without a will?

Even if you lead a relatively simple life, if you die without a will it could take a team of professionals to settle your financial affairs. Celebrities, past presidents and everyday New Yorkers die without wills every day, but your loved ones do not have to be among them.

Intestacy is the legal name for the situation where someone dies without a will. If this happens, your estate could pass into a complex legal process, as happened recently in the case of the millionaire hermit. This can be an expensive process. But before that happens, who becomes involved?

Who is involved in cases of intestacy?

After someone dies without a will or without immediate family, a team of people must step in to help. They come from private and public agencies. The following professionals could be called and are usually compensated through the deceased person’s estate:

  • Public administrators
  • Locksmiths
  • Biohazard/trauma cleanup professionals
  • Trash haulers
  • Real estate agents
  • Auctioneers
  • Attorneys
  • Financial brokers, banks
  • Probate court professionals
  • Heir-finders

Many people would like to leave their money to their children, spouses, siblings or parents. If they die without a will, wouldn’t their money go to these people anyway?

In New York, cases of intestacy usually go through probate court. This can diminish the value of the estate by a third, a half or even more. All that you’ve saved could end up going towards court costs instead of in your heirs’ hands.

To maximize the amount of money your heirs ultimately inherit, it is wisest to create and sign a valid legal will. Even simple wills can help your family know that they are carrying out your last wishes as you would have wanted.

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