Basic Requirements for a Last Will & Testament in New York

By Karyn Maier

A last will and testament is a sworn statement that declares how and to whom property will be distributed upon the death of the testator -- the person making the will. A will also appoints an executor to manage the transfer of the property according to the wishes of the deceased. The basic requirements to make a last will and testament in New York are outlined in the New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Code.

Eligibility

Anyone over the age of majority who is also of sound mind and memory can make a last will and testament. In New York, this means anyone over the age of 18. Generally, a “sound mind and memory” indicates that the person making the will has not been declared incompetent in any legal proceeding and is aware of what the will means and what it does.

Requirements for Construction

For a last will and testament to be valid in New York, it must be made in writing and witnessed. However, under certain circumstances, New York recognizes nuncupative and holographic last wills and testaments. A nuncupative will is dictated verbally to at least two witnesses, while a holographic will is made in the testator’s own handwriting, but unwitnessed. These types of wills are valid if made, for example, by a member of the armed forces engaged in active duty or a person classified as a mariner at sea.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Execution

The execution of a last will and testament involves three parties: the testator and two witnesses. The testator acknowledges before the witnesses that the document is his last will and testament and that it bears his signature. The witnesses then sign the document in the presence of the testator and include their addresses of residence. Usually, all three parties are present at the same time for a will signing, but New York does allow witnesses to sign a last will and testament within 30 days of the testator’s signing as long as the testator is present.

Considerations

A person who has not made a last will and testament is said to die “intestate,” which gives the state authority to act on behalf of the estate. This means that a probate court will decide how and to whom to divide the person’s property. Because this can be a time consuming process in certain cases, it is best to make arrangements for the disposal of your estate -- no matter how small -- while you are still living. It’s also a good idea to update your will periodically, especially in the event of a marriage, divorce, death of a spouse or the birth of a child.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
How to Contest a Will in Louisiana

References

Related articles

Can a Person Write Their Own Will & Then Have It Notarized?

In this age of technology, writing out a will by hand may not be the norm, but it is a perfectly acceptable alternative to typed or printed wills. The key to making an effective handwritten will is knowing your state laws regarding whether witnesses are required and, if so, how many.

The Inheritance Statute in Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. has enacted the Uniform Probate Code, a law drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws that is designed to harmonize the probate laws of the various states. The Uniform Probate Code governs the distribution of inheritances bequeathed by people who resided in the District of Columbia when they died.

How to Prove a Will When Your Subscribing Witnesses Are All Dead or Unavailable

Wills can be an effective estate planning tool for distributing property after your death. But, for its terms to be honored when you pass away, most states require someone who was present at the time the will was signed to attest to the document's validity. Knowing how a will can be verified if all witnesses either pass away or cannot be found will help ensure that your property passes according to your wishes.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

Rules for Witnessing a Will

A last will and testament is a powerful legal document that instructs the executor of an estate how to distribute the ...

Number of Witnesses Required for Signing a Will in Alabama

Many states recognize a last will and testament as valid even if it is handwritten with no witnesses to the maker’s or ...

Last Will & Testament of the Terminally Ill

Because a last will and testament disposes of property when someone dies, courts are careful to make sure that a will ...

Handwritten Last Will & Testaments

Each state has its own laws on what constitutes a valid last will and testament. In most states, a will must be in ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED