NEW YORK ANTI-LAPSE STATUTE
This blog previously discussed what happens if an heir passes away simultaneous with a testator and how the property that would otherwise go to the person who simultaneously passed away with testator ends up getting transferred. An obvious related question is what happens if an heir or beneficiary passes away prior to a testator? This blog also explored this issue in the past. It is now time to reexamine that issue in more detail and in light of the larger legal structure that the law provides for various contingencies that exist in the law regarding property passing via probate when some sort of mistake or event occurred that would otherwise leave the property unpassed to the next generation.
In both cases the law has default, fall back statutes to specifically address these sorts of scenarios. In the case of property or money left to an heir who predeceases a testator, if the property or money passes to siblings or children of the testator, New York’s anti-lapse statute controls and allows for that property or money to pass to that sibling or child’s heirs, almost as if the heir did not predecease the testator. If an heir passes away prior to distribution that bequest is considered to have “lapsed”. New York’s anti-lapse statute, as judged by its name, obviously prevents the lapse from occurring. In the absence of the anti-lapse statute, a bequest that fails to pass to the intended heir that heir predeceased the testator, the bequest becomes part of the larger estate, to be dealt with via other provisions in the will or otherwise dealt with through the application of the state’s intestacy statute. All states have anti-lapse statutes. In a sense the anti-lapse statute provides a substitute heir via statutory decree for the beneficiary who predeceased the testator.