New York Intestacy Laws

The following are excerpts from New York’s intestacy laws. Please reference the full body of New York’s probate and intestate laws for any changes to those laws that may not be reflected below.


You can also open the New York Intestacy Evaluator℠ to see the distribution of a New York intestate estate based upon any person’s unique family and financial circumstances.

New York Intestate Laws

1-2.10 Issue
(a) Unless a contrary intention is indicated:
(1) Issue are the descendants in any degree from a common ancestor.
(2) The terms “issue” and “descendants”, in subparagraph (1), include adopted children.

1-2.11 Per capita
A disposition or distribution of property is per capita when it is made to persons, each of whom is to take in his own right an equal portion of such property.

1-2.16 Representation
By representation means a disposition or distribution of property made in the following manner to persons who take as issue of a deceased ancestor:
The property so passing is divided into as many equal shares as there are (i) surviving issue in the generation nearest to the deceased ancestor which contains one or more surviving issue and (ii) deceased issue in the same generation who left surviving issue, if any. Each surviving member in such nearest generation is allocated one share. The remaining shares, if any, are combined and then divided in the same manner among the surviving issue of the deceased issue as if the surviving issue who are allocated a share had predeceased the decedent, without issue.

2-1.3 Adopted children and posthumous children as members of a class
(a) Unless the creator expresses a contrary intention, a disposition of property to persons described in any instrument as the issue, children, descendants, heirs, heirs at law, next of kin, distributees (or by any term of like import) of the creator or of another, includes:
(1) Adopted children and their issue in their adoptive relationship. The rights of adopted children and their issue to receive a disposition under wills and lifetime instruments as a member of such class of persons based upon their birth relationship shall be governed by the provisions of subdivision two of section one hundred seventeen of the domestic relations law.
(2) Children conceived before, but born alive after such disposition becomes effective.
(3) Nonmarital children. For the purposes of this paragraph, a nonmarital child is the child of a mother and is the child of a father if the child is entitled to inherit from such father under section 4-1.2 of this chapter. The provisions of this paragraph shall apply to the wills of persons dying on and after September first, nineteen hundred ninety-one, to lifetime instruments theretofore executed which on said date are subject to the grantor’s power to revoke or amend, and to all lifetime instruments executed on or after such date.

2-1.6 Disposition of property where a person dies within one hundred twenty hours of another person or any other event
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section:
(1) Where, under articles 4 and 5 of this chapter, the title to property or the devolution of property depends upon an individual’s survivorship of the death of another individual, an individual who is not established by clear and convincing evidence to have survived the other individual by one hundred twenty hours is deemed to have predeceased the other individual.
(b) The survival requirements of paragraph (a) of this section shall not apply if:
(5) Its application would result in a taking of the intestate estate by the state.

4-1.1 Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate
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, one-half 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.

4-1.4 Disqualification of parent to take intestate share
(a) No distributive share in the estate of a deceased child shall be allowed to a parent if the parent, while such child is under the age of twenty-one years:
(1) has failed or refused to provide for the child or has abandoned such child, whether or not such child dies before having attained the age of twenty-one years, unless the parental relationship and duties are subsequently resumed and continue until the death of the child; or
(2) has been the subject of a proceeding pursuant to section three hundred eighty-four-b of the social services law which:
(A) resulted in an order terminating parental rights, or
(B) resulted in an order suspending judgment, in which event the surrogate’s court shall make a determination disqualifying the parent on the grounds adjudicated by the family court, if the surrogate’s court finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the parent, during the period of suspension, failed to comply with the family court order to restore the parent-child relationship.
(b) Subject to the provisions of subdivision eight of section two hundred thirteen of the civil practice law and rules, the provisions of subparagraph one of paragraph (a) of this section shall not apply to a biological parent who places the child for adoption based upon:
(1) a fraudulent promise, not kept, to arrange for and complete the adoption of such child, or
(2) other fraud or deceit by the person or agency where, before the death of the child, the person or agency fails to arrange for the adoptive placement or petition for the adoption of the child, and fails to comply timely with conditions imposed by the court for the adoption to proceed.
(c) In the event that a parent or spouse is disqualified from taking a distributive share in the estate of a decedent under this section or 5-1.2, the estate of such decedent shall be distributed in accordance with 4-1.1 as though such spouse or parent had predeceased the decedent.

4-1.5 Other disqualifications
No estate property, whether passing by intestacy or otherwise, which has its situs in this state, shall pass to any other state or territory of the United States, or to any foreign country or sovereignty in the event of the absence of an individual heir, distributee, legatee or owner of said property, but shall pass as abandoned property to the state of New York, and shall be held as such property pursuant to the abandoned property law.