Can New York State Inherit Your Money?
The idea of the state inheriting your money instead of your family inheriting it is enough to scare a lot of people into getting started on their estate plans. Having an estate plan is better than not having one, but your fears that the State of New York will end up with the inheritance that you intended for your children are probably unfounded. The state seeks out plenty of opportunities to take your money, both while you are alive and after you die, but you probably have to worry more about estate taxes and Medicaid asset recovery than you do about escheatment. Escheatment is an uncommon word for an uncommon practice, namely when the state makes itself the heir to a deceased person’s estate because there are no other heirs. To find out more about ways to ensure that your estate goes to the intended beneficiaries instead of the state inheriting it, contact a Bronx estate planning lawyer.
The Challenges of Representing an Estate Without a Will
Intestate estates, where the deceased person did not write a will, are far more vulnerable to escheatment than those where there is a will. With or without a will, the personal representative of the estate must make diligent efforts to locate the heirs. If there is a will, the personal representative simply contacts the people listed as beneficiaries. He or she must also public notices in the local newspaper announcing that the estate is open for probate; this way, people who think that they are entitled to an inheritance may contact the probate court. When someone dies intestate, the decedent’s closest surviving relatives inherit the estate. The personal representative must contact them in addition to publishing notices. This is not always easy if the decedent died unexpectedly and the personal representative does not personally know the decedent’s relatives. If the personal representative is truly unable to locate the heirs, he or she must submit a sworn statement to the court, describing the efforts he or she made to locate the heirs.
Escheatment Is a Last Resort
The term “escheatment” goes back to medieval England where, in theory, the king had a claim to all the property in the country. If someone died with no heirs, the king would inherit that person’s estate. Today in New York, the State of New York can inherit your property if you do not write a will and if you do not have any surviving family members.
The best way to avoid escheatment of your property is to write a will. If you are not in contact with your family or do not want them to inherit from you, you may leave your estate to your friends, a charity, or anyone else you choose.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Bronx Estate Planning Attorney
An estate planning lawyer can help you build your estate plan so that your family or friends will inherit your money, instead of the state. Contact Cavallo & Cavallo in the Bronx, New York to set up a consultation.