In Connecticut, New York and other states If you die without a will (intestate), state law determines who receives your property. The state law reflects the legislature's guess as to how most people would dispose of their estates.
So the primary reason to execute a Will is so that you, not the state, determines who gets your property, who takes care of your kids, and who has the power to wind up your affairs.
These laws vary from state to state, but generally in Connecticut and New York the distribution would first be to your spouse and children and then to other family members.
Intestate in Connecticut
The detailed law of intestate succession in Connecticut if you die without a Will is a follows. New York Law is similar.
If the decedent is survived by the:
Spouse, and the children of both decedent and spouse -Spouse takes first $100,000 plus ½ of the remainder. Children take the other ½ of the remainder.
Spouse, and children of decedent, one or more of whom is not the child of the spouse - Spouse takes ½. All the children share the other ½ equally.
Spouse and parent or parents (no children) - Spouse takes first $100,000 plus ¾ of the remainder. Parent(s) takes the other ¼.
Spouse only (no children, no parents) - Spouse takes all.
Children only (no spouse) - Children take all.
Parent(s) (no spouse, no children) - Parent(s) take all.
Brothers and sisters (no spouse, no parents, no children) - Brothers and sisters take all.
Next of kin (no spouse, no children, no parents, no brothers or sisters) - Next of kin takes all.
If there is no next of kin, but there is a step-child, he or she will be next in line to take. If there is no step-child, everything goes to the State of Connecticut.
In most instances if a related person dies before decedent, his or her children receive what would have been his share.
Since the state laws are different, there can be slightly different results if you live in Danbury CT or Somers NY.