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Changing My New York Will


As most people get older, they start to think about who will receive their assets when they are no longer alive to enjoy them. Estate planning attorneys can assist anyone who is interested in ensuring that their wishes are honored legally. The foundational document that most people use to start their estate plan is their last will and testament. That said, too many people get locked into the mindset that a will cannot be changed once it is drawn up.  In reality, wills can be changed multiple times, as long as the changes are properly documented. The help of a Westchester or Putnam County attorney can make all the difference.

Creating A Will Is Easy

The law governing will creation in New York is fairly straightforward, setting out the requirements for the document and for those witnessing it. Simply put, a New York will must be in writing, signed by the testator or an authorized agent, in the presence of two witnesses (or, they may ‘acknowledge’ the signature as their own within 30 days). Holographic wills (those handwritten and executed with no witnesses) and nuncupative wills (those ‘not written,’ such as video or audio wills) are not accepted, with rare exceptions.

Many people simply execute one will and leave it as is, but it is just as common for a person to want to change their will – or have to change their will – simply because their life has changed in some important respect. For example, New York law states that unless a person’s will expressly states otherwise, the act of divorce automatically invalidates any testamentary bequests a person made to their now-former spouse. If a person wants to keep their ex-spouse in the will, they must either have stated their wish beforehand, or write a new section in order to do so.

Two Ways To Make Changes

If a person wants to make fundamental changes to their current will, they have two options in terms of doing so in a way that will be approved by the Surrogate’s Court. The first is simply to revoke the old one and execute a new one. There are two main ways to revoke a will – physically destroy it or revoke it in a new writing.

The other method of changing one’s will is to execute what is known as a codicil, which amends the original document without invalidating it. A codicil is not meant to be a complete will replacement; rather, it seeks to make a minor change. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a codicil must adhere to the same standards of validity as a regular will, with witnesses and other requirements. There can be a problem if either one of these documents gets lost, which is why many simply prefer to make a new will.

Contact A Putnam County Estate Planning Attorney

Everyone should be able to enjoy their later years without the worry of where their property will go upon their passing. A Westchester County estate planning attorney from Meyer & Spencer, PC can help to ensure that your wishes are respected, and that you have a plan for everything, so that you can focus on the truly important things. Contact our office today at (845) 628-0009 to schedule a consultation.



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