When a New York resident dies with no will, they have died intestate. When someone dies intestate, New York inheritance law controls how the decedent’s property is distributed. New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) 4-1.1 is New York’s intestacy law. Who inherits what depends on the survivors of the decedent.
Surviving Spouse and No Children
If the decedent was survived by a spouse (husband or wife) and no children, then the spouse inherits everything under New York intestacy law.
Surviving Children But No Surviving Spouse
If the decedent was survived by children but not by a spouse, then the children inherit everything.
Surviving Spouse and Surviving Children
If the decedent was survived by a spouse and descendants, then the spouse inherits the first $50,000 of the intestate estate, and half of the balance. The surviving children inherit the remaining balance.
Surviving Parents But No Spouse and No Children
If the decedent was survived by parents, but no spouse and no children, then the parents inherit everything under New York intestacy law.
Surviving Siblings But No Spouse, Children, or Parents
If the decedent was survived by siblings, but no spouse, children, or parents, then the siblings inherit everything.
For all of the above scenarios, if the decedent had surviving grandchildren of a child that predeceased the decedent, the grandchildren would step into the shoes of the deceased child and inherit in place of the deceased child.
New York Inheritance Law Regarding Half-Blood Relatives, Children Born Post-Death, and Adopted Children
New York EPTL 4-1.1 also provides for half-blood relatives, children born post-death, and adopted children and states as follows:
(b) For all purposes of this section, decedent’s relatives of the half blood shall be treated as if they were relatives of the whole blood.
(c) Distributees of the decedent, conceived before his or her death but born alive thereafter, take as if they were born in his or her lifetime.
(d) The right of an adopted child to take a distributive share and the right of succession to the estate of an adopted child continue as provided in the domestic relations law.
Property that Enters The Estate
Just because a New York decedent dies with no will, does not necessarily mean that there will be any property for the beneficiaries to inherit. New York inheritance laws only govern decedent’s property that is a part of Decedent’s probate estate. This means that non-probate assets, such as accounts with beneficiary designations or jointly owned property, will not be controlled by New York inheritance laws. See the probate and non-probate assets chart here.