Planning for the future can be fun when it pertains to vacations, hobbies and even retirement. It is less enjoyable when it involves planning to ensure that one’s affairs are in order when they die. This type of planning is called estate planning and involves the execution of testamentary documents to outline a person’s intentions for their assets when they pass away.
Though many individuals understand the importance of estate planning, not as many take the proactive steps to complete the process. When a person dies without estate planning tools such as a will in place, their assets and possessions can be given to beneficiaries based on the intestate succession laws of the state. This post will generally discuss these laws and why readers may want to avoid letting intestate succession laws control their estates.
Distributions to closely related family members
Though intestate succession laws throughout the country differ, most follow a pattern of distribution that follows a decedent’s heirs down and up their family tree. In New York, the following rules apply:
- A decedent’s spouse inherits all of the decedent’s assets at the time of their death, if the decedent did not have kids.
- The surviving spouse receives a sizable portion of the decedent’s estate – $50,000 plus half of the remainder – if kids are alive when the decedent passes on.
- When a decedent’s estate cannot pass down to their spouse, kids, or grandkids, it may pass up to their parents.
- If the decedent outlived their parents, then the decedent’s estate may pass down the next branch of the family tree to the decedent’s brothers and sisters.
This pattern continues until a relation is located to inherit the decedent’s property.
Taking control with estate planning
An estate plan ensures that a decedent’s assets go to the people, charities and other organizations of their choosing. In addition, it can lay out special provisions for unique circumstances – such as when an individual owns a business or there are other unusual assets at play. It can also help to provide for heirs with special needs. Ultimately, an estate plan ensures that a decedent’s final wishes are followed – which can provide peace of mind for the entire family.