New York's Children Inheritance Laws

By Andrine Redsteer

In New York, a parent may make a will devising property to children. New York also allows parents to disinherit a child in a will; however, for disinheritance to be effective, a parent must use language that clearly and unequivocally states that purpose. If a parent doesn't make a will, children are entitled to a share of their parent's estate pursuant to state laws. These laws are known as laws of intestate succession, and they provide guidelines as to how property must be divided when a person dies "intestate," or without a will.

Surviving Spouse

Unless spouses enter into a valid prenuptial agreement that waives all rights to inheritance, a surviving spouse is entitled to a portion of her deceased spouse's estate. If a decedent leaves a spouse and children — provided there's no prenuptial agreement — the spouse is entitled to $50,000, plus one-half of estate assets. The remaining one-half of estate assets passes to the decedent's children in equal shares.

Children's Inheritance Shares

According to New York's laws of intestate succession, children are entitled to a parent's entire estate if their parent isn't married at the time of death. Children inherit their parent's estate equally. This means that if there are three surviving children — and no surviving spouse — each child receives one-third of his parent's estate; if there are two surviving children — and no surviving spouse — each child receives one-half of the estate.

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Adopted Children

In New York, legally adopted children have the same rights as natural children. An adopted child is entitled to receive an inheritance via a last will and testament or through New York's laws of intestate succession if an adoptive parent didn't make a will. An adopted child may also be disinherited in a will, provided the will expressly states the intention to disinherit that child.

Jointly Held Property

In New York, a primary residence purchased by spouses is typically deeded to them as a tenancy by the entirety, which means it's held jointly by both spouses. In a tenancy by the entirety, both spouses share an undivided 100 percent of the property because the married couple is viewed as one legal entity. Thus, when one spouse dies, his share automatically passes to the surviving spouse; this means he cannot leave his share of a tenancy by the entirety to his children in a will.

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Laws Governing Estate Inheritance for Children in Louisiana



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The Rights of Children of a Deceased Person

Generally, a deceased parent has no obligation to leave property to her children. In fact, nearly every state allows a parent to completely disown her children in a will. If a parent did not leave a will, however, children may have rights to property as dictated by state law. Additionally, children are considered "interested persons," meaning they have a right to contest a parent's will if they have valid grounds.

Inheritance Laws in Alaska

In Alaska, as in other states, when a decedent doesn't make a will, his property and assets must be divided according to the state's inheritance laws. These laws, known as "laws of intestate succession," provide guidelines as to the priority of heirs and what happens to property when there are no heirs.

Rhode Island Inheritance Laws

If a Rhode Island resident makes a valid will, she gets to choose how her property is divided. Rhode Island law requires residents to be at least 18 years old and capable of understanding the significance of making a will. Moreover, state law requires two witnesses during the signing of a will. If a resident fails to make a will, she dies "intestate." When a Rhode Island resident dies intestate, i.e. without a will, her property is divided among family members according to state law. These laws are referred to as laws of descent and distribution or laws of intestate succession.

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