Kinship Law

Kinship Law - Background.

New York State and the City of New York are estimated to be holding more than $11,000,000,000 in unclaimed money. Some of this money originated from estates with no known heirs. Howick Law represents potential heirs in Kinship Hearings throughout New York City to make sure that every heir receives his or her rightful share from a deceased relative's estate. When a person dies without a will in New York, that person's assets are distributed to heirs through the laws of intestacy. This means, that because there is no will to determine who inherits what, the law dictates what relatives have a right to inherit. The heirs in these cases are referred to as distributees. Howick Law represents distributees, protects their interests, and proves their right to inherit from the estate.

Kinship Law - Process

The rules of kinship and the determination of distributees, along with the protection of distributees' interests, can be complex. During the first step in the kinship process, the Public Administrator collects the assets of the deceased person (the decedent) and tries to locate potential heirs. If the decedent does not have easily identifiable distributees (parents, siblings, or children), it can be difficult for the Public Administrator to determine with certainty who, if anyone, does have a right to inherit from the estate. In those cases where no identifiable distributee exists, the Surrogate's Court relinquishes the money from the estate to the City of New York. This money is kept by New York City for three years until it is relinquished to the State of New York. The relinquished estate funds are kept by the state indefinitely unless an heir can prove his or her right to inherit. Proving this typically requires a "Kinship Hearing," which is a trial-like proceeding where evidence is presented and witnesses are called to prove an heir's case.

Kinship Law - Substantial

In a Kinship Hearing, proving a familial relationship is not a simple task-it often requires voluminous documentary evidence and testimony at the hearing stage. Howick Law typically works with a genealogy expert who collects the necessary documents to prove a client's right to inherit. These documents often have to be collected from different countries and certified to be used in a New York Surrogate's Court. Witnesses who are familiar with the deceased's family tree are also asked to testify at Kinship Hearings. All evidence has to be presented in accordance with the Estates Powers and Trust Laws (EPTL) of New York. Often these Kinship Cases are referred to as "cousins cases" because cousins are usually the only remaining relatives in proximity to the decedent.

Contact Howick Law today for a free consultation at (718) 776-3685 if you believe you are an heir to an estate.