Distributing the Estate to Heirs or Beneficiary Heirs in New York 

The death of a loved one is a complicated time. People are left grieving, and dealing with the aftermath of this loss. The added pressure of having to figure out the distribution of that loved one’s assets can heighten an already emotionally fraught time. That is why the guidance of an adept estate lawyer can be invaluable when distributing the estate to heirs or beneficiary heirs in New York.

How Assets Are Distributed

When distributing the estate to heirs or beneficiary heirs in New York, assets are distributed in different ways, depending on the nature of the property. If it is a house or other real estate, the deed will be transferred to the person entitled to receive it. Money can be transferred via a check. Other personal property, such as jewelry, can be sent in the mail or delivered in person. It is important to keep records of any disbursement of assets should the court request them.

Beneficiary Designation

When a person has a life insurance policy or retirement account, they can designate a beneficiary who is to receive the funds when the account or policyholder passes away. It does not usually pass under the person’s will. It goes to the person that the individual has designated. When a person passes away, their retirement accounts are paid to the beneficiaries they chose to receive the money in them, regardless of whether they were retired or not. Retirement only changes the way that money is taxed, based on the terms of the account in question.

Priority Beyond Distribution of Assets

There are priorities for who can be the administrator of an estate if none is named. A spouse might come before a child. There is also a list of priorities in the statute for situations where there is not enough money to pay everything that is provided for in the will. The funeral bill is the first thing that must be taken care of, followed by taxes. When those items have been paid, then an estate lawyer may begin any remaining assets can be distributed in accordance with the will, or by statute if no will exists.

Interested Persons

Interested persons include anyone mentioned in the will or people who would inherit assets in the absence of a will. An interested person always has the right to challenge the will or contest actions taken by the executor if they feel they are not in accordance with the will. People often invoke their rights as interested persons if they feel they were treated unfairly. A common misconception is that a child must inherit. A person does not have to leave money to their relatives, except a spouse.

When challenging a will or the actions of an executor, an interested person must prove that something was not done appropriately. If they are unable to, their challenge may not be accepted by the court. There is no requirement in New York law to leave anything to a child, whether they are an adult or a minor. A spouse is the only person who must receive a portion of the assets. Conflicts between interested persons and administrators are resolved in the Surrogates Court.

Interpretation of the provisions of a will is one of the more common areas where conflicts arise during the execution of an estate. How provisions are interpreted can determine what an interested person receives, and disputes can arise when there is uncertainty.

Role of an Estate Lawyer

The distribution of assets can be a complicated and contentious situation. A skilled estate lawyer can take some of the stress out of distributing the estate to heirs or beneficiary heirs in New York so you can focus on being with your loved ones in this difficult time.