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Does bona vacantia apply in your jurisdiction?

As strange as it might seem, property owners can leave behind homes and commercial buildings in New York for various reasons and never return. When this happens, these properties can sometimes fall under what’s known as bona vacantia.

Learning about bona vacantia

Bona vacantia is a Latin term that translates to either ownerless or vacant property. This situation can happen for several reasons. A property owner might intentionally abandon their property. Someone with several properties can unintentionally forget about a property, which results in bona vacantia. Bona vacantia also happens when someone passes away and has no heirs to claim any assets they left behind.

Is bona vacantia in effect in New York?

Properties that fall under bona vacantia can have major implications regarding probate and estate administration. With that in mind, you’ll want to know that bona vacantia can apply to abandoned properties in New York.

Even though many states have bona vacantia in effect, a state doesn’t technically own abandoned properties. Instead, states act as custodians until a property’s rightful owner or heir can claim it. This process involves the state getting in touch with an original property owner’s relatives. The state will contact close relatives, including spouses and children. If no spouses or children respond, the state will then start contacting more distant relatives to have them claim the abandoned property.

When properties are left behind for a long time, these buildings can receive the designation of bona vacantia. If this happens, especially when the property owner has no will in place, the state in which the property resides decides how to proceed. In most cases, the state will contact the owner’s relatives to have someone claim abandoned properties.

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