The Story of a Man Who Died Without A Will
John Jones was a 57-year old bachelor living in his own home in Queens. He had never married or had children, and his parents were no longer alive. John had a brother, but they were estranged and hadn’t seen each other in years. The brother had been married several times and had children from each marriage. Although John was estranged from his brother, he was very close to his young adult niece and nephew who lived nearby and he had remained in constant touch with them. John had a bank savings account with about $50,000, and an investment account with approximately $500,000 worth of retirement assets. His mortgage was almost completely paid off. John had not yet got around to making a Will, although his eventual plan was to name his niece and nephew the beneficiaries of his estate.In the summer, John went on a golf trip to Scotland with his buddies. While he was there, he got injured and had to be hospitalized. In the hospital he caught an antibiotic-resistant bacteria strain and required several weeks of treatment. When he finally returned home to New York, he was still feeling poorly and realized that perhaps he should make a Will as he had planned. John called an attorney and made an appointment, intending to name his niece and nephew as beneficiaries of his estate. Sadly, John unexpectedly passed away before the date of the appointment. What happens to John’s Estate? Because John died intestate (without a Will), his estate will have to go through the administration process in Surrogate’s Court, during which an Administrator will be appointed by the Judge. After settling John’s debts and taxes, the Administrator will distribute John’s assets according to New York law, which specifies that in the absence of a surviving spouse, children, or parents, the siblings would inherit. Without a Will, John could not express his wish to have his niece and nephew inherit rather than his brother, and according to the laws of intestacy his brother will receive his entire estate. A Will would have enabled John to direct his estate where he wanted it to go.
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