If a person dies without writing a will, then their property will pass to their heirs through a process known as intestate succession). New York law steps in and divides and distributes the deceased’s property to their heirs in a predetermined order.

Does New York Regulate Who Has Priority Interest in the Intestate Estate?

New York state law regulates which parties have priority interests in an intestate estate. The following is the general hierarchy involved in distribution of the intestate estate:

Spouse and Child

If the deceased is survived by a spouse and children, the spouse receives $50,000 and one-half of the balance within the estate. The other half belongs to the children. If the deceased is only survived by a spouse, then the spouse has an interest in the whole estate. Meanwhile, if there is no surviving spouse and the deceased is survived by children, they will get the entire estate.


If there is no surviving spouse or children, then the whole estate goes to the deceased’s parents.

Should I Seek an Attorney If I Have an Interest in an Intestate Estate?

New York state law is specific in terms of who has an interest in the estate of someone who dies without a will. An experienced estate attorney will be able to help you receive your fair share of an intestate estate. Also your attorney will assist you in fulfilling the various requirements and conditions needed in keeping with state law.

A qualified New York estate lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case. For more local legal information, please see these pages: