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My wife passed away without leaving a will. I am receiving checks in her name that I want to put in my checking account.

Bronx, NY |

We were married for 36 years and I am taking care of her affairs that her family left her. Her family had land shares among other family members who has also passed away. Everyone is gone. Father, Mother and brothers. On my side there are checks coming in her name from trust issues. What do I need to do make her share mine as the widower survivor of the family we had together. Again there is no will. There is also a daughter between us. The land issue is in another state

Attorney Answers 4


  1. First, sorry for your loss. The Land and Trust issues complicate this, and I don't think you can do it without a lawyer. You cannot deposit the checks in your name. You need to go to the Bronx Surrogate, and apply for letters of administration. Then you need to open up an Estate Bank account, where you can deposit checks. Then you need to administer the Trusts, and her assets, including the land in another state. Property will be sold, and placed in the estate where it will be divided between you and your daughter. If your wife was the last the pass, and the Trusts do not provide where the proceeds go upon that happening, you will need to wrap up the trusts.


  2. It is hard to lost a loved one, especially after so much time together. You will likely need to set up a probate for your Wife. With no will, the property will go by intestate succession and is dependent on whether it is separate, community or other. If all of the other beneficiaries of the Trust are gone, you are going to need to have an attorney look at that Trust too to see how that will be distributed. It may be it all goes to the survivor of the lot, so now to you and your daughter. Without seeing the documents, it is hard to say.

    Use the AVVO.com web site to find an attorney in your area. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!

    If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.


  3. You need to be appointed Administrator of your wife's estate by the Surrogate's Court. That will give you the authority to open a bank account, transfer assets and otherwise administer the estate.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice and no attorney client relationship has been formed. Before choosing a course of action, it is always advisable to seek the advice of an attorney in your area.


  4. When a New York resident dies without a will, New York Estates law provides that the surviving spouse is to receive $50,000 and one-half of the residue of the estate, the remaining half to pass to your daughter. There is also a listing of "family exempt" property to which you are entitled in addition to the above. The actual calculation will be complicated by whether assets are jointly owned, with beneficiaries named, etc. Additionally, that Trust document will likely have controling provision as to who gets the value of the land shares. If the land is in another state, it is likely the trust is to be construed under the law of that state. Therefore, you may be looking at hirinig lawyers in two states.

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