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If you die without a Will, then your entire estate could go to New York State. This is true regardless of the size of your estate or the donative intentions you may have.
Unfortunately this was the case with the Estate of Roman Blum. Mr. Blum, a Holocaust survivor who died at 97 without any known heirs and without a will, left an estate worth approximately $40 million. While he was known by his friends as a smart and savvy businessman who owned real estate all over Staten Island, Mr. Blum never executed a will.
Since Mr. Blum died without a will his estate is considered an intestate estate which means that his property will pass to his heirs under New York law. In this situation, since Mr. Blum did not have any known heirs, his property will pass to New York State.
Although most people do not leave an estate worth $40 million, the consequences are still the same. If you die without a will and there are no known heirs, then the state gets everything.
Regardless of the size of your estate, it is important to maintain control over your property and have your donative intentions honored. After all, where there’s a will, there’s a way; and where there’s no will, there’s the state.