Let Our New York Probate and Estate Administration Lawyers Help Make Your High-Value Inheritance Hassle-Free

Almost every adult resident of New York has a right to make informed decisions about how their estate and all of its assets should be distributed after their death. However, not every estate can be administered without interference—from the state and/or the federal government. How New York Inheritance Laws Can Affect You

The attorneys at Landsford & Ricaforte Law Group, P.C. have over 30 years of combined probate and estate administration experience. We understand that, even for successful families who know how to manage money, navigating the state and federal government’s complex systems of taxation can be challenging—especially in times where grief should take precedence over tax returns. Our lawyers discuss New York’s basic rules on inheritance and how we could help you make estate administration manageable.

An Overview of New York’s Inheritance Laws

New York is one of only a dozen states that has its own estate tax. Although New York’s estate tax is progressive and only levied on certain high-value estates, the burden of unexpected fees and penalties can pose a very real risk to executors, heirs, and beneficiaries. Understanding your rights and potential obligations could prove critical in protecting a legacy from unexpectedly high rates of taxation.

The Difference Between the Inheritance Tax and the Estate Tax

New York imposes an estate tax, which must be paid on behalf of the estate, before beneficiaries receive their inheritances. An inheritance tax, in contrast, is a levy on assets that have already been received by the estate’s heirs.

Both New York and the federal government have the authority to levy and collect estate taxes, but neither the state nor the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) levy or collect inheritance taxes.

How to Know if You Need to File or Pay an Estate Tax

New York reserves the right to levy an estate tax on a deceased person’s assets and interests. However, the Empire State’s estate tax is neither static nor set in stone. It is, instead, adjusted each year to keep up with inflation. In 2023, for instance, the estate tax threshold was $6.58 million—but was raised by nearly a half-million dollars to $6.94 million in 2024.

If a New York estate’s gross value exceeds the threshold in any given year, tax is typically owed on any amount exceeding the cutoff. This amount is termed the “taxable estate.”

Estates that have a value less than that of the threshold are almost always excluded from paying any estate or inheritance tax to the state

What’s the Estate Tax Rate in New York State?

An estate subject to the New York estate tax pays a rate that is determined by the assessed value of its taxable estate. For example:

  • If an estate exceeds the $6.94 million tax threshold by between $1 and $500,000, it is subject to an estate tax rate of 3.06%.
  • If the taxable estate is valued between $500,000 and $1 million, the estate tax rate is 5%.
  • If the taxable estate is between $1 million and $1.5 million, it is taxed at a rate of 5.5%.

The estate tax continues to increase by increments of $500,000 until the taxable estate is assessed at $4.1 million or more, after which rates increase by increments of $1 million. Rates vary and range between 3.06% at the lowest end of the spectrum and 16% at the very highest. The maximum estate tax rate is 16% and applicable to all taxable estates worth $10.1 million or more.

What Are New York’s Inheritance Rules for Married Couples and Children?

In New York, married couples are provided with a significant advantage when it comes to deferring their estate tax obligations. If a spouse dies, none of the assets they bequeath to the surviving spouse is subject to estate tax. However, when the surviving spouse passes away, their estate will still be subject to taxation if its value exceeds the $6.94 million estate tax exclusion. In most cases, child beneficiaries are not provided with any special exclusions or advantages.