In New York, there are many questions that heirs will have after the death of a loved one. Estate and probate can be complicated and confusing and it is even more difficult if there was no will. A person who died intestate might have done so because they did not believe they had significant assets to warrant a will or other estate planning device. They could have been younger and been the victim of an untimely death before realizing that a will was needed. The family members left behind will frequently wonder about filing for estate administration. To understand this, having legal advice is critical.

When there was a will, there will be an executor. This makes the process of estate administration simpler than if there is no will. The executor will simply file for probate or a small estate in the relevant county where the testator lived. If, however, the person died intestate, only certain people can file for administration or for a small estate. Generally, this is limited to the person who is designated as the “closest distribute.”

Often, that will be the spouse. This individual will have the right to file first before the testator’s children. If there was no living spouse, the children will subsequently have equal rights to file. There are some cases in which the relative who has prior rights does not want to file for estate administration. That person can renounce the right and sign a waiver stating as such. For relatives with equal rights – children are an example – they will all need to sign a waiver to renounce the rights. When this is done, it is not a relinquishing of their rights to the estate. They simply do not want to handle the administration of the will.

While it is inadvisable for people to die intestate, it happens every day. Families left behind will often be unaware as to what happens next and how the heirs will deal with the administration of the estate. Having legal help in dealing with this difficult circumstance is key and a law firm that handles estate administration and its various aspects be contacted as soon as possible for advice.