The laws in New York protect spouses in estate cases. New York has a very specific law to protect a spouse’s inheritance rights. The law in New York allows a spouse to have what is called an “elective share”. The elective share in the spouse’s estate is the greater of $50,000.00 or one-third (1/3rd) of the estate. This elective share takes into consideration assets such as joint bank accounts and other assets that are known as “testamentary substitutes.” A spouse who has not received their fair share of inherited assets from their spouse’s estate must take legal action to make a claim for their elective share in the estate proceeding.
Statute of Limitations for Seeking an Elective Share
A spouse’s right to claim the inheritance she is entitled to under his or her elective share must be initiated within six (6) months after an executor or an administrator has been appointed by the Surrogate’s Court but not later than two (2) years after the decedent’s death to deal with all of the issues involved in the estate.
Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
A pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement can place restrictions on a spouse’s rights to obtain an elective share. Sometimes when there is a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement a spouse presumes he or she is not entitled to their elective share. If there is a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement it should be evaluated carefully by an estate’s lawyer. There may be a ground to take legal action to set the pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement aside. If the agreement is set aside a spouse would still be entitled to their elective share.
Protecting Your Rights
Spouses as well as other beneficiaries to estates should make sure their rights are protected. Should it become necessary to take legal action to protect your rights, to see to it you receive the appropriate distribution in the Estate or to challenge some aspects of an estate proceeding, it is important that you retain a law firm with extensive experience in estate matters to represent you.
The law office of Schlissel DeCorpo LLP has more than 30 years of experience litigating a variety of estate issues. Our law firm administrates estates, protects beneficiaries, deals with issues of spousal rights of election and all other issues involving estate matters. Our firm has an extensive history of successfully recovering assets for our clients. Contact us to learn why we are the estate attorneys that can help you at 800-344-6431 or e-mail us at Elliot@sdny.com.