This is the next post in my series on the need for New York residents to have a proper estate plan. My last article discussed what happens when one dies without a will in New York. It is important to understand that such situations, which are referred to as dying “intestate,” can result in the deceased’s assets being divided in a way which is inconsistent with their wishes. Retaining an experienced attorney can help to ensure that your affairs will be handled in a way which you will be happy with. In this article I will discuss the process and requirements of preparing a last will and testament. If you are in need of assistance then contact my office to speak with a Long Island lawyer.
Long Island residents must prepare their last will and testament in the ways required under New York law
New York allows for anyone over the age of eighteen to create a last will and testament. Under our state’s laws, a will may only be considered valid if several requirements are met. These requirements include:
- The need for the document to be in writing (it may be typed or hand-written)
- The need for the document to be signed by the person making the will
- The requirement that two witnesses, who viewed the original signing of the will, sign the document with thirty days of the time that the will was made. The person making the will must be present when the witnesses sign the document
There are other requirements that must be met in order for a final will to be considered valid. These include the need for the person making the will to be of sound mind and body when they execute the document. The person making the will (who is known as the “testator”) must also not be entering into the arrangement due to fraud, duress, or while under some form of threat. If one or more of these requirements are not met, then an heir or potential heir may challenge the validity of the will.
Serious consequences can arise if a last will and testament is successfully challenged. Say, for example, that a will is admitted to probate but an heir challenges the will’s validity on any of the grounds stated above. If the Court then finds that the will is not valid, then the deceased’s assets will be divided as if no will existed. In other words, the deceased will be considered as having died “intestate” and their assets will be divided in accordance with the rules explained in my last article. By retaining an experienced Long Island estate planning attorney, one can make sure that their last will and testament is prepared in accordance with all legal requirements and that their affairs are handled properly.
It is important that Long Island residents keep their last will and testament up to date
After a last will and testament has been prepared, it becomes important to keep it up to date. If the deceased’s circumstances changed after the will was drafted, then the Court will generally still honor the terms of the will. This means, for example, that if new assets were acquired then they would not be covered by the will. Such assets would then be divided in accordance with the intestate succession statutes. By retaining counsel, you can help to ensure that your will and other instruments are kept up to date.
If you are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Long Island estate planning lawyer. I assist with the creation of a final will, a living trust, and other necessary instruments. I am ready to assist you. Call today to speak with an attorney. Our office also serves Kings County residents in Brooklyn, residents of Queens, those in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as people in other New York areas.