Estate, Powers and Trusts, § 4-1.5: Other Disqualifications

When you pass away your estate will have to be settled and your assets distributed. Under New York Probate law if you have a will the process of winding up your estate will involve your executor taking control of the process and eventually distributing your assets to your beneficiaries based on the terms of your will. If you do not leave a will or if there is property in your estate that is not covered by your will, then your property will be distributed to your legal heirs based on New York Estate law. This means that the Surrogate's Court will distribute your assets to your surviving relatives based on the laws of intestate succession. However, whether an estate is distributed based on the terms of the decedent's will or based on intestate succession, occasionally there are instances in which there is a problem with distributing assets because a beneficiary or an heir cannot be located. Due to a variety of circumstances you may lose track of family members and friends over the years. If an heir or beneficiary cannot be located after a reasonable effort including using an heir finder, under Estates, Powers and Trust, § 4-1.5 and laws related to abandoned property, that missing heir's property will be distributed to New York State and will not be distributed to any other state. If you have an interest in an estate and are having trouble locating beneficiaries or heirs, consider contacting a Suffolk County Heir Finder Lawyer to help you locate the missing heirs to ensure that the decedent's final wishes are fulfilled.

Example

After a brief illness 50-year-old Trent Smith died without leaving a surviving spouse or children. At the time of his death Trent had substantial assets including a house in Suffolk County, a luxury vehicle, a bank account in a New York bank, and investment accounts. He executed a will that left 50% of his estate to his cousin, Jim, and 50% to his girlfriend, Tina. It was easy to distribute Tina's share to her, as she was living with Trent at the time of his death. However, while Jim and Trent were at one time very close, over the years Trent and Jim drift apart. Trent had not communicated with Jim for several years prior to Trent's death. Although the executor of Trent's estate was told that Jim's last known address was in Connecticut, the executor was not able to find Jim. Under EPTL § 4-1.5, Jim's share of Trent's estate will go to New York State.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Descent and distribution of decedent's estate: Estates, Powers and Trust, § 4-1.1
  2. Inheritance by non-marital children: Estates, Powers and Trust, § 4-1.2
  3. Disqualification of parent to take intestate share: Estates, Powers and Trust, § 4-1.4
  4. Disqualification of joint tenant in certain instances: Estates, Powers and Trust, § 4-1.6
Estate, Powers and Trusts, § 4-1.5- Other disqualifications

No estate property, whether passing by intestacy or otherwise, which has its situs in this state, shall pass to any other state or territory of the United States, or to any foreign country or sovereignty in the event of the absence of an individual heir, distributee, legatee or owner of said property, but shall pass as abandoned property to the state of New York, and shall be held as such property pursuant to the abandoned property law.

Suffolk County Heir Finder Lawyer

The process of winding up an estate and distributing a decedent's property can be challenging and can take many unexpected turns. The problem of a missing heir will make the process even more complicated. If you are an estate administrator, heir, beneficiary or an interested party facing complications related to an estate, contact the experienced staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your estate issue. We serve individuals throughout the following locations:

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