How is an estate’s assets divided when someone without a spouse or children dies without a Will?

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2012

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How is an estate’s assets divided when someone without a spouse or children dies without a Will?

My uncle had a significant estate that is to be distributed to his sister (my aunt) and his brother (my father). Since my father is deceased, my 3 siblings and I have been told we have become inheritors. Does my aunt – the administrator – determine the amount we each receive?

Asked on January 19, 2012 under Estate Planning, New York


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Sorry to hear about your uncle and your father.

Your aunt, the administrator, does NOT determine the amount of your inheritance.  The amount of your inheritance is determined by the rules of intestate succession.  Intestate means dying without a Will. 

Since your father has four surviving children.  Each surviving child will inherit 1/4 of your father's share.  If you have any deceased siblings who had children, those surviving children (your nieces and nephews) will inherit their deceased parent's share which will be divided equally among them.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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