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GeorgetownLawyr, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 12049
Experience:  Experience in Probate matters, including will contests and civil litgation related to estates.
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recently my brother in law passed away . I am not sure about

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recently my brother in law passed away . I am not sure about the law here in NY . since he did not have a will. he had some money in stocks. also my wife has informed me she has half brothers from here father's previous marriage. would her half brothers be entitled to any money?

Hello and thank you for using our service. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help you. I just ask for you to ask any additional questions you may have if you feel the question has not been answered. Also, IF I have bad news for you, please remember I am only the messenger, I will try my best to give you a solution, but sometimes the law does not have a good one.


Sorry to hear about your brother-in-law....are his parents still alive? What about his grandparents? I will answer your question also.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thank u, no here parents passed away. no grandparents either. they passed away a long time ago.

Ok, and I forgot to ask was he married or had any kids?

Were the stocks his only asset?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

no he doesn't have any children or wife or girl friend. yes a house but that was in my mother in law's name.

Ok, thanks. Someone should check to see if the stocks have a named beneficiary because that will determine who gets the stocks and they would not pass through probate. If the stocks had no designated beneficiary all of his siblings (half and whole) will take an equal share of his estate. Half siblings are treated just the same under N.Y. Intestacy laws.


From N.Y. Code Section 4-1.1 Descent and Distribution of Decedent's estate,

(b) For all purposes of this section, decedent's relatives of the half
blood shall be treated as if they were relatives of the whole blood.


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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

does it matter if the half brothers were adopted and the records sealed. also since my brother in law was mentally handicapped . my mother in law was his conservative. and everything was in her name and his lawyer. does this matter.

Ok, this would have been nice to know up front. :-) So tell me, you said the mother died before he did, so how was everything still in her name? Are the half siblings his mother's children or his father's children? Finally, when you say the half sibs were adopted, were they adopted by his parents or did another family adopt them and they are only his biological sibs but adopted by another family? That isn't clear here.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

my mother in law died suddenly and then he died 3 days later. the boys were adopted by another family. not anyone from her family . my wife's only sibling was her brother who passed away. the half brothers are her father's children.

Ok, this changes the analysis. Two analysis. If everything was in mom's name and there is no indicator of the fact that it was being held in trust for him and he was not named as beneficiary when she died, then it all goes to your wife/his sister. Nothing goes to the half siblings if another family adopted them. Once a child is adopted their right to inherit from their biological parents and siblings is terminated. They of course would be treated equally as biological children of the adopted parents and have the right to inherit from the adopted parents estate.


Now, if everything passed to your brother-in-law upon the untimely death of his mother then upon his death the only sibling he has is your wife (because the others were adopted by another family) and once again your wife gets 100%. So under either analysis everything goes to your wife. Thanks for this question, I really the interesting aspects of it.


I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. Thanks again and best regards.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ok, so her half brothers are not entitled to anything because they were adopted? also what laws helped u make this conclusion?

That is correct unless they were named in a will, which in this case you said there was no will. 100% based on the law, not just an opinion. In 1986, as a result of a Court of Appeals decision in In re Best, 66 N.Y.2d 151 (1985), the law was amended to state that the adopted-out child was deemed a "stranger" with respect to the biological parents. The adopted-out child may not inherit from the natural parents through a class gift in a will or a trust, or through intestacy.


I hope I have answered your questions. Thanks again and good luck with everything. Best regards.

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