The term “next of kin” under New York law is synonymous with “distributees” of an intestate decedent.
Next of kin under New York law are, in the following order:
- Surviving spouse
- Siblings and issue of pre-deceased siblings, if any (nieces and nephews)
- Grandparents and issue of predeceased grandparents (first cousins)
- Great-grandparents and issue of predeceased great-grandparents (first cousins once removed).
To determine the next of kin under New York law, start at the top of the list and work down until someone in the category exists that survived the decedent. That category is the class of next of kin.
What Do Next Of Kin Inherit In New York?
If you are the next of kin distributee under New York law, your inheritance depends on the other survivors of the decedent:
Survivors of Decedent
Share of Intestate Estate
Surviving spouse only
– Spouse inherits 100% of estate
Surviving spouse and issue
– Spouse inherits first $50,000 of estate and ½ of the balance
– Issue inherit the rest of the estate by representation
– Issue inherit 100% of the estate by representation
Parents only (no spouse or children)
– Parents inherit 100% of the estate
Siblings only (no spouse, children, or parents)
– Siblings inherit 100% of the estate
– Paternal/maternal grandparents split the estate evenly
Aunts and uncles only
– Paternal/maternal aunts and uncles split the estate evenly
Nieces and nephews only
– Nieces and nephews split the estate evenly
Will Next of Kin Automatically Inherit From A New York Intestate Estate?
Just because you have the status as next of kin distributee under New York law does not mean that there are assets for you to inherit. If a decedent had only non-probate assets, such as jointly titled bank accounts or accounts with pay on death designations, there will be no probate assets that are governed by the rules of intestacy. See our Probate and Non-Probate Assets Chart.
New York Estates, Powers, & Trusts Law (EPTL) 4-1.1
New York next of kin, or distributees, and the shares of an estate to which they are entitled, are set forth in New York Estates, Powers, & Trusts Law (EPTL) 4-1.1, which governs inheritance rights when there is no will and states:
The property of a decedent not disposed of by will shall be distributed as provided in this section. In computing said distribution, debts, administration expenses and reasonable funeral expenses shall be deducted but all estate taxes shall be disregarded, except that nothing contained herein relieves a distributee from contributing to all such taxes the amounts apportioned against him or her under 2-1.8. Distribution shall then be as follows:
(a) If a decedent is survived by:
(1) A spouse and issue, fifty thousand dollars and one-half of the residue to the spouse, and the balance thereof to the issue by representation.
(2) A spouse and no issue, the whole to the spouse.
(3) Issue and no spouse, the whole to the issue, by representation.
(4) One or both parents, and no spouse and no issue, the whole to the surviving parent or parents.
(5) Issue of parents, and no spouse, issue or parent, the whole to the issue of the parents, by representation.
(6) One or more grandparents or the issue of grandparents (as hereinafter defined), and no spouse, issue, parent or issue of parents, onehalf to the surviving grandparent or grandparents of one parental side, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation, and the other one-half to the surviving grandparent or grandparents of the other parental side, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation; provided that if the decedent was not survived by a grandparent or grandparents on one side or by the issue of such grandparents, the whole to the surviving grandparent or grandparents on the other side, or if neither of them survives the decedent, to their issue, by representation, in the same manner as the one-half. For the purposes of this subparagraph, issue of grandparents shall not include issue more remote than grandchildren of such grandparents.
(7) Great-grandchildren of grandparents, and no spouse, issue, parent, issue of parents, grandparent, children of grandparents or grandchildren of grandparents, one-half to the great-grandchildren of the grandparents of one parental side, per capita, and the other one-half to the great-grandchildren of the grandparents of the other parental side, per capita; provided that if the decedent was not survived by great-grandchildren of grandparents on one side, the whole to the great-grandchildren of grandparents on the other side, in the same manner as the one-half.
(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.
(e) A distributive share passing to a surviving spouse under this section is in lieu of any right of dower to which such spouse may be entitled.
It is always a good idea to consult with a New York Probate Lawyer to determine your rights as next of kin.