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My aunt passed away a year ago with no will. The only surviving heirs are nieces, nephews

Buffalo, NY |

There is also a brother in law. There is only her home, and what ever furnishing that were of any value have been taken I believe by some family members a few weeks ago. a police report will be filed tomorrow by a niece. Who is the house left to? I was told it would be the oldest of the nieces and nephews, is this correct?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    No. There is no benefit in being the "oldest." In the absence of a Will, any probate assets would pass to the surviving heirs, who would seem to be the nieces and nephews. It is possible there is joint property or property with beneficiary designations. Such property would pass outside of probate to the surviving joint owner or beneficiary. Someone will need to petition the surrogates court to be appointed administrator for the estate. An attorney should be retained to assist with the administration. This should be done as soon as possible, because a year has already passed with nothing being done.

    James Frederick

    ***Please be sure to mark if you find the answer "helpful" or a "best" answer. Thank you! I hope this helps. ***************************************** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state. I hope you our answer helpful!


  2. I agree with James's comment. Your family should attempt to retain an attorney in this matter as soon as possible to protect your collective interests. Your family will not need to worry about finding the money to pay the attorney, as many attorneys consent to getting paid by the estate once it becomes liquid, i.e., the house gets sold.

    If the house was held in a "joint tenancy" by your aunt and the oldest of her nieces and nephews, however, then the house might have passed outside of probate and be properly owned by them. The deed must be reviewed by an attorney before any action is taken.

    Best of luck,
    Pinni Bohm
    (212) 920-5224

    I am only licensed to practice law in New York, so this is just general educational information. You will need to contact a local attorney to attain information that pertains to your specific circumstances. No attorney-client relationship exists between us.


  3. I agree with attorney Frederick. If the property was held solely in your aunt's name, all of the nieces and nephews are in line to inherit a portion of the house. I am not sure about the significance of the police report.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


  4. Both answers before are correct, but for your own sake, you might want to check out the mortgage or if there are any liens on the property before you start, as the home can only be transferred subject to those being paid off or assumed by someone else.

    Rory Alarcon, Esq., is a New York attorney practicing the areas of Family Law, Matrimonial Law, Foreclosure Defense, Consumer Defense and other areas of general practice primarily in Suffolk & Nassau County. His office, Alarcon Law Firm, practices only in New York State and offers the best attorney rates in the Long Island area. His office may be reached at (631) 867-2348.


  5. I agree with my colleagues. You may find this link useful as well for some of the G&A aspects.

    http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/nyc/surrogates/faqs.shtml#q4a

    My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.


  6. Assuming there is no will your aunt's estate will pass under the laws of intestacy. I highly suggest you find an attorney who is experienced in these matters so you may get an Administrator appointed to marshal and protect the estate assets.

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