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Anti-Lapse Statute and What Happens if an Heir Dies Before the Maker of a Will

Anti-Lapse Statute – New York has an anti-lapse statute which provides that if the beneficiary named in a New York City decedent’s will dies before the maker of the will (testator), the gift is “saved” by passing to the deceased beneficiary’s children (the grandchildren of the testator), even though the testator has not changed the will to bequeath the gift to the testator’s grandchildren.

The Will Needs to Be Clarified – Sometimes the intentions of the decedent are not really clear. So the New York City Surrogate’s Court will first attempt to construe the language of the will by reading it its entirety.  Documentation or testimony may be used as a second source to help the Court make a final determination of the decedent’s intentions.

Example: Joe’s mother left all her assets to Joe his sister equally, and Joe died before his mother, his portion of his mother’s estate will transfer to his children, (her grandchildren) after his mother’s death.

Since New York probate laws are complicated, the surviving heirs will usually hire a New York City probate and estate attorney to assist them with the probate or administration of a loved one’s estate, including anti-lapse statute matters. If you wish to speak to a New York City estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.