Leaving a will is the best way to ensure that property left in your estate after you pass away goes to the people you want to receive it. Unfortunately, not everyone leaves a will. Intestate succession rules are in place to determine who is entitled to a decedent’s estate in the absence of a will. In other words, if you do not leave a will, New York provides a will for you. Under New York’s law of intestate succession, a decedent’s heirs are always their surviving spouse or children, if any. Other relatives, such as parents and siblings would only be entitled to a decedent’s estate if the decedent passed way without either a surviving spouse or children.
In the case of In re D.W.L., the decedent passed away intestate in February 2007 at the age of 33 due to accidental carbon dioxide poisoning. He was unmarried. He was survived by his mother. There were also 3 minor children who claimed (through their mothers) that the decedent was their father.
In September 2007 the decedent’s mother filed a petition for letters of limited administration. Initially she included in the petition that the decedent had 3 children. A year later she amended her petition to state that he had no children. This is significant because if he had no children, his mother would be his next of kin and entitled to his entire estate. On the other hand, if he had children, they would be entitled to his entire estate and his mother would not be entitled to any portion of his estate.