What is a kinship estate? Estate of Cathy Boone

What is a kinship estate? Estate of Cathy Boone

One of the most difficult legal concepts to grasp within the practice of NY estate law is called jurisdiction.  When someone passes away and a NY estate lawyer commences a legal proceeding regarding the NY estate, jurisdiction must be obtained prior to the action moving forward.  Jurisdiction is the act of identifying all necessary parties to the NY estate proceeding and giving each party notice of the ensuing estate action within the courts.  What do NY estate lawyers do when heirs are unknown or cannot be located? When heirs cannot be identified or are not discernible or when their whereabouts are unknown, such NY estates often become NY kinship estate cases.

In such NY kinship estate proceedings claimants have the burden of proving their entitlement to inherit. To do so the claimants through their NY estate lawyers must establish that they are the closest surviving blood descendants to the decedent as defined by the NY estate law.  This burden is met when their NY estate lawyers introduce a preponderance of evidence 1) showing how each claimant is related to the decedent,  and 2) that no other persons of the same or nearer degree of relationship survived the decedent.   This is also called closing the class and is often the most difficult obstacle for the NY estate lawyer to overcome in these often puzzling cases.

In establishing kinship a NY estate lawyer begins with isolating a common ancestor of the decedent from which point you construct the family tree with persons of nearest degree of relationship establishing their standing while excluding those more remote. In other words prior to successfully prosecuting a NY kinship estate, the NY estate lawyer must show all lines of ancestry which precede that of their clients as a distributee exhausted. As such the NY estate lawyer’s job in these cases is to literally kill off all descendants in equal or closer relation to the decedent in order to successfully litigate these NY kinship estate matters.

What happens when the identity of the heirs are known but their whereabouts are not?

Similarly to the above scenario where the heirs are not easily discernible, NY kinship estates also occur when the heirs are known but cannot be located.  One of these cases involved the unfortunate kinship estate of Cathy Boone.  Cathy Boone passed away at the age of 49 on January 13, 2020.  Cathy Boone’s mother had passed away in 2016 leaving her daughter Cathy as her sole surviving heir of the $900,000.00 inheritance.  However Cathy was mentally ill, in and out of rehabilitation facilities for drug abuse and living on the streets.  While Cathy Boone could surely have used the $900,000.00 inheritance to help her get clean and take care of herself, Cathy’s whereabouts remained unknown to her mother’s estate lawyers.  This made it impossible for her mother’s estate lawyers to obtain jurisdiction over her in order to pay out the estate.  Upon Cathy’s death her mother’s $900,000.00 estate was deposited with the State Comptroller’s Office becoming a kinship estate.

In this unusual case Cathy Boone’s inheritance should have been paid out to her as the sole surviving heir of her mother’s estate.  However because her whereabouts were unknown to her mother’s estate, it was not paid out to her.  Now that Cathy is herself deceased, the proceeds of her mother’s estate has essentially become a kinship estate.  Kinship estate lawyers will need to piece together the identities of Cathy Boone’s heirs and prove their relationship to Cathy and that there are no surviving heirs in closer proximity to the deceased.  If Cathy died with no relatives closer to the degree of cousins once removed, children of first cousins, the money will remain on deposit forever.

If you or a family member have any questions it never hurts to ask the opinion of an experienced NY kinship estate lawyer to explore your rights.  Feel free to call the NY estate lawyers at The Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates for a free consultation at (718) 261-2444. Our NYC estate lawyers have more than 60 years of combined NY estate law experience claiming the proceeds of kinship estates for families like yours in the counties of Queens, New York, Kings, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Orange and Dutchess.



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