Inheritance rights of siblings endow you with certain rights to your brother’s or sister’s inheritance. However, your rights are lower priority than those of your sibling’s more immediate family members. As set forth in the laws of the state of New York, you have no rights to your sibling’s inheritance if they had a living spouse, descendants or parents at the time of their death. Even if you are the closest living relative, you may also have very limited rights if your sibling left you out of their will.
If your sibling did not have a will, then you will inherit only if you are “the closest living relative” – only if your sibling died with no living spouse, descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.) and parents.
If your sibling had a will, then you will have the right to be notified of the will and the hearing date when the will is presented before the court.
If you were not named in your sibling’s will, then you have the right to contest the will. You can win a will contest if you can prove that your sibling either did not have the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced into making the will or the will was not made correctly.
Half-siblings have the right to inherit equally with full siblings. This is only true in some states, New York being one of them.
Step-siblings do not have the right to inherit. Only if they were adopted by the sibling’s parents, in which case they would be considered siblings.
All siblings have the right inherit equally unless stated otherwise in the will of the sibling who died.
If you are the closest living relative (your sibling does not have a living spouse, descendants or parents) or you are named as the executor in your sibling’s will, then you can have the right to be named the executor or administrator of their estate.
Children are presumed to be biological children if they were born during the marriage or have your sibling’s name on their birth certificate. Adopted children of your sibling are considered their children. Step-children or foster children are not considered their children.
A legal marriage is assumed to be valid unless you can prove otherwise, even your sibling was separate from their spouse or was in the process of divorce. But if you can prove to the court that your sibling’s spouse abandoned them, then you will have the right to set aside the spouse’s share and will be able to inherit from your sibling. To be valid for inheritance purposes, the marriage has to be a legal marriage. Common-law marriage is not valid in New York, but may be valid in a different state.
You can contact the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin, an attorney familiar with inheritance rights of siblings, at (212) 233-1233 or 212-233-1233.