Unmarried and Intestate
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My partner died without a will and his blood relatives are contesting my right to inherit from his estate. What should I do?
Unfortunately, when a person dies without a will, the State writes one for them. This is called intestacy. The intestate scheme in New York provides for a "spouse" to inherit from a deceased spouse in intestacy; however, an unmarried person or domestic partner is not included in the definition of a "spouse" under the intestate statute. Much difficulty in litigated cases could have been prevented if the decedent had validly executed a will. With limited exceptions, every individual may distribute his or her assets in a will to whomever they choose. They can leave assets to individuals, including same-sex partners or spouses, to close or distant family members, or to no family members. When one fails to implement an estate plan, they leave themselves and their loved ones completely unprotected, as well as in chaos trying to uncover the information that only they knew about. If you find yourself in position, the most important thing to do is to consult with an estate planning attorney to determine your rights for your particular situation, and whether the facts and circumstances of your situation warrant pursuing an action to enforce your rights in the estate.  

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