Ensuring Your New York Will Is Valid
While it can be an unpleasant task, those over the age of 65 are highly encouraged to execute a valid Last Will & Testament at some point, to ensure that they have the final say as to who receives their possessions after their passing. That said, it can be difficult to know how to ensure your will is valid in New York – consulting an experienced Mahopac estate planning attorney is a good first step to making sure.
“Of Sound Mind & Memory”
New York’s relevant statute on wills states that anyone over the age of 18, “of sound mind and memory,” is permitted to make a valid will. The will must be in writing, unlike in some other states, and it must be witnessed by two people, neither of which can be a beneficiary under the will. This can sometimes create problems, because very often, a testator (the executor of the will) will simply have two family members witness the will out of convenience – not knowing that under state law, this invalidates the will completely.
Some people may prefer to handwrite their will or to record it on video or audio. In New York, both of these (referred to as ‘holographic’ and ‘nuncupative’ wills, respectively) would be considered invalid, though a handwritten will is sometimes considered acceptable as long as it is properly witnessed. The reason is that these methods do not provide a proper way to authenticate the testator’s intentions. A will of doubtful provenance is not able to be probated successfully.
Do I Need An Attorney?
Given that the requirements for a valid will are relatively straightforward, some people wonder why they would require an attorney’s help to execute one. The answer is that while the general requirements are fairly simple, the little details are not – and failure to attend to little details can invalidate a will entirely. For example, in New York, not every asset one owns is automatically considered a probate asset – if a testator makes no provision for how these assets are supposed to be devised, they may wind up in the hands of someone the testator did not wish to benefit.
In addition, a will drafted by an attorney is generally granted a presumption of validity in Surrogate’s Court. If someone tries to execute their will without assistance, that presumption is absent, because the court must evaluate whether the will is valid or not. If a family is hoping for a quick probate process, this can be a problem as the court will exercise its due diligence in evaluating the will.
Call A Westchester County Estate Planning Attorney
Writing a will can feel intimidating to many, but it is important to ensure your affairs are in order for your loved ones. A Pleasantville estate planning attorney from Meyer & Spencer, P.C. is ready to try and assist you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.