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Spousal Rights in New York Estate

Under intestate laws in New York, a spouse is entitled to receive the deceased spouse’s entire estate if there are no surviving issue or $50,000 and one-half of the remaining estate if there are surviving issue.  “Issue” is a legal term  which refers to all lineal descendents such children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.  Stepchildren are not considered issue.  Even if a will does not provide for a surviving spouse, a surviving spouse has the right to elect to take one-third of the assets of his or her deceased spouse regardless of what the provisions of the deceased spouse’s last will and testament provide.

While the laws in New York protect the surviving spouse there are instances where a spouse may not want the surviving spouse to receive the entire estate. In order to avoid the New York laws which distribute property to a surviving spouse, a spouse must have a valid prenuptial agreement in place. Typically only a valid prenuptial agreement signed by both spouses can defeat the surviving spouse’s right to property of the deceased spouse.

Getting Legal Help

Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Elga Goodman can help you draft all the documents you need to protest your estate assets and your loved ones. Call us today at 973-841-5111 to learn more.

Posted in: New York Estate Planning