Surviving Spouse Rights in New York

If you live in New York, have a less than happy marriage,and think you can disown your spouse when drafting your will, think again. In fact, the Empire State has specific laws in place to prevent you from disinheriting your spouse from your estate plan. New York recognizes that the spouse of a deceased person has statutory rights to a share of the marital estate and assets. However, in order for a surviving spouse to obtain their inheritance, they must bring a claim before the New York Surrogate’s Court within six months of the appointment of the executor of the decedent’s estate and within two years of the decedent’s death.

When there is a will

In some cases, when a person dies in New York, they may attempt to omit their spouse from their will. If you find yourself in such a predicament, you must consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer. According to New York law, the surviving spouse is actually entitled to $50,000, or one third of the decedents estate, or half if the couple did not have any children, whichever amount is higher.

If there is no will

Dying intestate in New York, (this means dying without a will), ensures that your assets will be distributed in accordance with state law. Thus, if your spouse passes away and does not have a will, you are entitled to receive their entire estate. In the event that you had children, you are entitled to receive the first $50,000, and then half of the remaining estate.

Assets a surviving spouse has no right to claim

In New York, a surviving spouse cannot claim interest in certain assets. For example, any property that is considered separate from the marriage will not be subject to spousal distribution. If the decedent receives a gift or inheritance, such assets will not be inheritable to the surviving spouse so long as they have not been comingled with marital assets/property. Gifts given to a third party with the consent of the surviving spouse, will also not be affected by the distribution process.

Knowledgeable estate planning attorney protects your rights

The estate planning process is necessary yet sometimes confusing. Whether you are a spouse seeking a rightful inheritance you were denied, or are planning a comprehensive estate plan for your family in New York, The Law Offices of Lissner & Lissner is determined to provide you with trusted guidance at every turn. For more information on how we can assist you, call (212) 307-1499 or contact us online.