How Long Do You Have To Claim An Inheritance In NY?

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Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotional experience. Amidst the grief and mourning, there may be the question of what happens to the deceased person’s assets and property, also known as their inheritance. In the state of New York, there is a specific timeline within which beneficiaries or heirs must claim their inheritance. This blog by Morgan Legal Group PLLP, a reputable law firm located in New York City, will provide a comprehensive guide on how long you have to claim an inheritance in New York. We will explore the inheritance laws, the importance of timely action, and how experienced lawyers can assist in claiming your rightful inheritance.

The Inheritance Process in New York

Before diving into the time limits for claiming an inheritance, it’s essential to understand the inheritance process in New York. The process typically involves the following steps:

1. Probate or Administration

If the deceased person had a will, it must go through the probate process to determine its validity and appoint an executor to administer the estate. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate through the administration process.

2. Identifying Beneficiaries or Heirs

During the probate or administration process, the beneficiaries or heirs entitled to the inheritance are identified. This can include immediate family members, relatives, or even charitable organizations, depending on the deceased person’s wishes or New York intestacy laws if there is no will.

3. Inventory and Valuation of Assets

The executor or administrator is responsible for creating an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and having them appraised to determine their value.

4. Paying Debts and Taxes

Before distributing the inheritance, the estate’s debts and taxes must be settled. This includes paying off outstanding bills and filing any necessary tax returns.

5. Distribution of Inheritance

Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs according to the deceased person’s will or New York intestacy laws.

Time Limit to Claim an Inheritance in New York

There is no specific time limit for claiming an inheritance in New York. However, acting promptly and not delay initiating the process to receive your rightful inheritance is essential. While there is no deadline, waiting too long to claim an inheritance can have negative consequences, such as:

1. Loss of Assets

If you fail to claim your inheritance promptly, the assets may be at risk of being mismanaged or lost.

2. Tax Consequences

Delayed action may lead to potential tax consequences, especially if estate or other taxes are involved.

3. Debts and Expenses

Any debts or expenses associated with the estate may increase over time, affecting the value of your inheritance.

4. Beneficiary Disputes

Delays in claiming the inheritance can lead to disputes among beneficiaries or heirs, making the process more complex and time-consuming.

Steps to Claim Your Inheritance

While there is no strict time limit, it is crucial to take the following steps to claim your inheritance promptly and efficiently:

1. Contact the Executor or Administrator

If you believe you are entitled to an inheritance, reach out to the executor or administrator of the estate. They can provide information about the probate or administration process and your potential inheritance.

2. Gather Necessary Documents

Collect any documents supporting your claim to the inheritance, such as a copy of the will, birth certificates, or other relevant documents.

3. Consult an Experienced Inheritance Lawyer

An experienced inheritance lawyer can provide valuable guidance throughout the process, ensuring your rights are protected and you receive your rightful inheritance.

4. Act Promptly

Avoid unnecessary delays in claiming your inheritance. Act promptly to avoid potential complications or loss of assets.

Challenges to Inheritance

In some cases, there may be challenges or disputes regarding the inheritance. Some common challenges include:

1. Contested Wills

A beneficiary may contest the validity of the will, leading to a legal battle over the distribution of assets.

2. Disputed Beneficiaries

There may be disputes among potential beneficiaries regarding who is entitled to the inheritance.

3. Unclaimed Assets

If no beneficiary comes forward to claim the inheritance, the assets may go unclaimed and eventually eschewed to the state.


While there is no specific time limit to claim an inheritance in New York, acting promptly to avoid potential complications and ensure a smooth and efficient process is crucial. Morgan Legal Group PLLP is a trusted law firm in New York City, offering expert legal guidance in inheritance matters. If you believe you are entitled to an inheritance, don’t hesitate to contact our experienced inheritance lawyers. We are here to protect your rights and help you secure your rightful inheritance in a timely manner. Remember, time is of the essence, and we are ready to assist you throughout the inheritance process.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group PLLP.

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