What is the difference between passing testate and intestate?

What is the difference between passing testate and intestate?

When a person in the state of New York passes away, the surviving family members are often faced with handling the individual’s estate. Estate administration is the process of closing an individual’s estate after they pass away. This often includes collecting and distributing assets to beneficiaries in accordance with a will and paying any remaining debts or taxes. The state of New York classifies people who pass in two ways: testate and intestate.

A person who is considered “testate” upon his or her passing has created a valid will and chose an executor to carry out his or her last wishes. A person who is considered “intestate” upon his or her passing is someone who did not have a valid will at the time of death.

Estate Administration for Testate Individuals

When a person passes with a will, the state considers them testate. The executor that was chosen to administer the estate on behalf of the deceased will be given authority by the Surrogate’s Court to close the estate. Some of the many responsibilities that are included when an executor closes an estate include the following:

  • Collecting the assets of the deceased individual and ensuring their safety during the estate administration process until they can be distributed to beneficiaries
  • Paying estate taxes and outstanding debts
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the will
  • Providing an accounting to the court
  • Handle any objections to the will

Estate Administration for Intestate Individuals

Individuals who pass away without a will are considered intestate. Since no executor has been named in a will, an Administrator will be appointed by the court and they will have to take on many of the same duties as an executor.  The individual’s estate will be subject to New York’s laws of intestate succession and assets will be distributed accordingly:

  • If the deceased only had a spouse, he or she gets everything
  • If the deceased only had children, everything will be split evenly between them
  • If the deceased is survived by both a spouse and children, the spouse gets the first $50,000 and half of the balance while the children split the rest
  • If the deceased had no children or spouse but is survived by parents, the parents inherit everything
  • If there are no children, spouse, or parents, surviving siblings inherit everything

If you have questions about creating a comprehensive estate plan or administering an estate, contact our firm today.

Zimmet Law Group, P.C. is an experienced team of attorneys guiding clients through matters of estate planning and administration, divorce and family law, real estate, commercial litigation, business law, bankruptcy, and landlord-tenant law. If you require the services of an effective New York City attorney, contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.

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