How Does A Last Will And Testament Work In Brooklyn?

How Does A Last Will And Testament Work In Brooklyn?

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A last will and testament is used to express your wishes concerning how you desire your assets distributed when you pass away. It only goes into effect when you die. This means you can change it from time to time to suit your present estate situation and goals during your lifetime.

As the owner of the will, you are known as the testator.

How are assets distributed with a Brooklyn will?

Typically, every will in Brooklyn must be probated before its instructions can be carried out. This occurs when the testator dies. When that happens, the executor named in the will will take the will to the probate court for the will to be validated (probated).

The probate court must be one located in the county where the testator lived at the time of their death. If they find the will as valid (drafted according to legal requirements), the court will grant the executor authority to probate the estate.

The executor is now faced with the responsibility of:

  • Notifying the public that probate has commenced
  • Inventorying all assets that are in the name of the decedent and estimating their actual value
  • Filing state/federal estate tax return forms if they apply.
  • Paying estate tax, debts, and funeral expenses of the decedent using funds from the estate
  • Distributing what’s left of the estate according to the will.

Notably, it is only after all estate financial obligations have been settled that beneficiaries can get their inheritance. So if there are huge debts and taxes, the heirs may not inherit as much as the testator had desired.

It’s often advisable to get help from an estate planning attorney before drafting your will in Brooklyn.

If you have a small estate and a typical family and do not worry about tax, you can draft your will yourself. But for large and complex estates, it’s advisable to get help from an estate planning attorney. An experienced attorney can use legal strategies to plan such that estate taxes are avoided.

Your attorney will also ensure your will is worded appropriately using the right legal terms since the document must pass through the probate court. If you also have a special estate situation such as having kids below 18, an estate planning attorney can help you plan accordingly.

Requirements for writing a will in Brooklyn, NY

  • The will must be in writing.
  • You (the testator) must be 18 years or above.
  • You must be of a sound mind at the time of writing the will.
  • There must be at least two witnesses concurrently present who must each sign and attest to the presence of each other.
  • The will must also contain the written signature of the testator.

 What assets can go into a will in Brooklyn?

It is important to note that not all assets can be addressed with a will. Only assets that are in your name only without any beneficiary designation can be distributed according to your will.

The following assets should be left outside the will:

  • Life insurance – You most likely already named a beneficiary in your life insurance policy, so it’s useless naming another beneficiary of this same asset in your will. It may ultimately lead to discrepancy
  • Retirement accounts, such as 401(k) – Also has a designated beneficiary
  • Transfer-on-death bank accounts – has a designated beneficiary who the funds must go directly to when the owner dies
  • Assets in a trust – assets kept in a trust will pass directly to the beneficiaries regardless of what the will says
  • Real property held by joint tenancy with rights of survivorship – The property will go directly to your joint owner when you pass away regardless of what the will says.


If you die without a valid will or trust in Brooklyn, you would be said to have died intestate, and your estate will be distributed according to New York intestate laws rather than your wishes. The surviving spouse gets the first $50,000 and half the estate, while the rest goes to the children.

 A Last will and testament can be used to appoint guardians for minors in Brooklyn

If you have minors, it’s a wise idea to name a guardian for them in your will. That is because children below 18 cannot inherit property under New York law. Hence, the guardian will look after them with the assets you leave until they come of age to inherit what’s left of it.

Get expert help in drafting your Brooklyn will

Wills are simple but are a fundamental part of estate planning. Drafting one without properly informed can lead to costly mistakes that your surviving loved ones will bear when you pass away.

But an estate planning attorney can help you consider all that needs consideration to prepare a will that addresses all your concerns accurately.

Call us to speak with an estate planning attorney Brooklyn.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The content of this blog may not reflect the most current legal developments. No attorney-client relationship is formed by reading this blog or contacting Morgan Legal Group.

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