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Risk your estate without a will in place

Estate planning is the only way to avoid the challenges your family could face if you die without a will. Even a business you own falls into uncertainty if you haven’t legally named successors for it. When someone dies intestate, which means without a will, their possessions are subject to the ruling of a New York court.

Rulings in intestacy

Determining an estate’s status is done by first confirming that a will exists. This isn’t as straightforward as it might seem, for documents get lost in the attic and other unforeseeable places. Even if a will was made, an intestate death is declared without that will present. A copy of a will is acceptable, but getting proof that the deceased signed it then becomes an obstacle.

Proceedings in probate

Probate is a proceeding that disburses an estate according to the court and its assigned judge. Some probate hearings are also intestacy trials that seek to make a ruling on how your assets are divided up without knowing your wishes. If you did leave a will, probate is the time for your will to be contested by family, friends and third parties. The probate proceeding is when beneficiaries find out about their eligibility to receive estate assets.

Default rulings on your assets

Without a will, the court uses a default order to decide how your assets get disbursed. The order is based on your closest relative or any insurance you have. Here’s an overview:

  • Spouses: When your spouse is your closest relative in a probate case, they get all of your estate.
  • Children only: Children get your assets by default when there is no spouse.
  • Parents only: Without children to receive your assets, your parents receive your estate if a spouse doesn’t.
  • Grandchildren: Your grandchildren receive your estate should their parents, your children, pass before you do.

Estate planning is pivotal in keeping your assets from going through intestacy proceedings. Predetermining how your assets should be handled gives security to your family later on.

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