New York law provides that a parent can be disqualified for receiving death benefits of their minor child for two reasons: for failing to support the child, or for abandoning the child. EPTL §4-1.4. In In re Lee, probate litigation was initiated requiring the Surrogate’s Court of New York County to determine whether the father of a deceased child should be disqualified based on failure to pay child support.
In March 2016, the child died at age 14 while at boarding school. At the time her parents were divorced. The mother was the custodial parent. The father was ordered to pay child support. The mother petitioned for and was awarded letters of administration for her daughter’s estate. The father did not appear at the hearing and did not oppose the mother being appointed administrator.