If you die without a will in New York, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws. Here are some details about how intestate succession works in New York.

Which Assets Pass by Intestate Succession
Only assets that would have passed through your will are affected by intestate succession laws. Usually, that includes only assets that you own alone, in your own name.

Many valuable assets don’t go through your will and aren’t affected by intestate succession laws. Here are some examples:

property you’ve transferred to a living trust

  • life insurance proceeds
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement account
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • payable-on-death bank accounts, or
  • property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety.

These assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will.