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Simultaneous Death in New York – Are Individuals Deemed to Survive Each Other?

When two people die simultaneously in New York, what happens to their estate? The first thing to check is the will – if just might tell you exactly what happens! For example, the will might state that a person can inherit even if he or she died simultaneously with the testator, or the opposite – that even surviving the testator by more then 120 hours will not help.

If there is no will, or the will does not deal with survivorship, New York Estates Powers and Trust Law will govern.  According to the EPTL, if two people died simultaneously, they are assumed to die before one another unless proven otherwise.

The simultaneous death issue usually comes up when two people either died simultaneously or it is impossible to determine who died first, such as where there’s only about a five-minute window between their deaths. If it can be proven that they did not in fact die simultaneously, but one outlived another by at least 120 hours, then that’s not simultaneous death.

It is always better to address this situation before it comes up. You might not want the simultaneous death statute to apply to your situation. Speak to your estate planning attorney before drafting the will or another inheritance document, such as a beneficiary designation on a bank account.

People’s life situations can be strikingly different. Divorced individuals might want to consider putting a long survivorship period into the will, to avoid the child’s other parent getting the money after the child’s death.  People who frequently travel together are ones who should be especially careful with this will provision.

If you find yourself in one of the above life situations, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774 and schedule a consultation to discuss your estate plan.