FAQ: What is Intestacy? What is Testacy?

The following information focuses on New York estate law.

Intestacy describes a person’s estate where the decedent passed away without a last will and testament.  This is known as dying intestate.  Conversely, Testacy describes a person’s estate where the decedent passed away with a last will and testament.  This is known as dying testate.

Whether a person dies intestate or testate has a significant effect on how the decedent’s estate is distributed upon death.  The main difference is that if a person dies testate, then the decedent’s assets are transferred according to the terms of the will.  If the person dies intestate, then the decedent’s assets are transferred to the distributees according to the laws of intestacy of New York State.

Two different court proceedings are in order depending on whether the decedent died with a will.  If there was no will, then the proper procedure in New York City is to file a Petition for Administration.  If the decedent died with a will, then the proper procedure is to file a Petition for Probate.