What happens when someone dies intestate?
1 attorney answer
Dear Buffalo Friend:
When a person passes away without a Will, the NY State laws of Intestacy control distribution of the decedent estate. http://nls.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Last_Wills_and_Testaments.pdf
There is nothing automatic relating to the out-of-state estranged sibling. If that surviving relative is interested in the inheritance of whatever value, the first step is to secure temporary administration papers from the local Surrogates Court.
Any of the local friends could do so as well. It will then be up to the appointed administrator to track down the long-lost sibling and bring the sibling into the process of inheritance.
What is the friends' concern? You wrote "no assets". That means nothing. No clothes, no books, no cash on hand, no pension, no furnishings, no lease (yes an extant lease becomes owned by the Estate at the instant of passing away, and the lease continues as does the obligation to pay rent unless some person with legal authority is able to cancel the lease), no motor vehicle, no tools, scrapbooks, photos and so on.
Since this person is alive, why leave anything to chance? Get him to do a Will. Nominate an executor and decide while alive about funeral matters, and who gets what. He may also disinherit the sibling.
I have forty five years experience in the specialty of Housing Law and Tenant's...