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Uncle Inheritance Laws: an Overview

Uncle inheritance laws endow you with certain rights to your uncle’s inheritance. However, your rights are lower priority than those of your uncle’s more immediate family members. As set forth in the laws of the state of New York, you have no rights to your uncle’s inheritance if your uncle had a living spouse, descendants or parents at the time of his death. Even if you are the closest living relative, you may also have very limited rights if your uncle left you out of his will.

Will I inherit if my uncle did not have a will? If your uncle did not have a will, then you will inherit only if you are “the closest living relative” – only if your uncle died with no living spouse, descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.) and parents.

Do I have to be notified if my uncle died? If your uncle had a will, then uncle inheritance laws state that you will have the right to be notified of the will and the hearing date when the will is presented before the court.

What can I do if I am not named in my uncle’s will? If you were not named in your uncle’s will, then you have the right to contest the will. You can win a will contest if you can prove that your uncle 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.

Can I inherit from step-uncle? You cannot inherit from a step-uncle. Only if you were adopted by the uncle’s sibling, in which case they would be considered an uncle.

Do all nieces and nephews inherit equally? According to uncle inheritance laws, nieces and nephews inherit by sharing the inheritance share of the uncle’s siblings.

Will I be in charge of my uncle’s estate? If you are the closest living relative (your uncle does not have a living spouse, descendants or parents) or you are named as the executor in your uncle’s will, then you can be named the executor or administrator of his estate.

Can I inherit from my uncle if his marriage was invalid? A legal marriage is assumed to be valid unless you can prove otherwise, even your uncle was separate from his spouse or was in the process of divorce. But if you can prove to the court that your uncle’s spouse abandoned them, then you will be able to set aside the spouse’s share and will be able to inherit from your uncle. 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.

What should I do if I need an estate and probate lawyer for my uncle’s estate? You can contact the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin, an attorney familiar with uncle inheritance laws, at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.