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How Easy Is It To Change Your New York Will?


As one moves into the part of life where estate planning becomes more important, making a will becomes one of the most crucial things many can do. A will is one of the foundational documents of estate planning.  Despite this fact, many older people do not want to make one for fear that they will simply change their mind. In reality, changing one’s will in New York is easier than you might think.

Creating A Will

Creating a will in New York is fairly straightforward. It must be in writing (with rare exceptions) and signed at the end by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign and date the document. New York does not allow “nuncupative” or “holographic” wills – that is, wills that are oral or lacking the attestation of witnesses.

It is important to keep in mind that the witnesses must not be beneficiaries under the will. A will must be free of any of undue influence.

Changing A Will

A last will and testament can be changed under New York law, but not in the manner that one might think. In order to ‘change’ a will, there are two things the testator can do: (1) they can revoke the will entirely and execute a new one; or (2) execute what is known as a codicil – an addendum of sorts that can change certain provisions and/or add new ones. Most people choose to revoke their wills and create new ones, just to have all their wishes in one document.

Either or both of these can seem overwhelming, but making changes is crucial if your life situation has changed. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you make a new will, or execute a codicil, it is recommended to physically destroy the old will, even if you make a new will afterward. The testator’s intentions need to be clear for New York law to proceed with probate; without clear instructions, the process can get bogged down.

Contact A Westchester County Estate Planning Attorney

Making a will is one of the most important things one can do to ensure that their possessions go to the people they choose. If you have questions about making or changing yours, calling a Westchester County estate planning attorney from Meyer & Spencer, PC may be the first step toward getting them answered. Contact our Pleasantville office today at (914) 741-2288 to schedule a consultation.

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