What is a will?
Your will or last testament is a legal document in which you state clearly your wishes concerning how you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away. In a will, you can name and appoint an executor of your estate (the person to manage and distribute your estate on your behalf), a guardian (the person to look after you or your minor children when you get old or die as the case may be), and name a trustee in whose hands all your property will be transferred to. It is worthy of note that your will may be valid or invalid. It is the state laws which govern writing of wills, and it is also worthy of note that these laws vary from state to state. If your legal will New York does not comply to New York laws, then it will be declared invalid during probate (a legal process after your death).
Requirements for writing a will in New York
Any will written by a person below 18 is not acceptable as a valid will. You must also be proven to be of sound mental capacity, and you must have written the will out of your own free will and not under duress. Before you die, you may have reasons to write more than one wills due to change of heart, but in your last will there must be a clause stating that this is your last will and you are revoking any existing one.
It is a requirement that a valid legal will New York be signed in the presence of at least two persons of at least 18 years of age, and these persons show evidence by signing beneath your signature as witnesses. The will then be notarized by a lawyer who witnessed all who put their signatures. While the latter is not actually a requirement, it is recommended by the American Bar Association as it helps the will become “self proving” during probate. A self proving will needs not be proven or probated further, and will simply be taken as valid.
Types of Will
A legal will New York could either be printed, handwritten or oral. Of the lot, the printed will is the most common. However, in printed wills, the signatures must be handwritten. A handwritten will — also called a holographic will — must be written completely by the testator in order to be valid. Nevertheless, two disinterested parties would have to testify that the handwriting is the executor’s in order for such holographic will to be accepted by the probate court. Oral wills, also known as nuncupative wills, are only acceptable if the testator is/was a mariner at sea or with any of the Armed Forces during a time of war or any armed conflict. An oral legal will New York particularly require at least three witnesses who were present when the testator proclaimed his will.
Probating a legal will New York
Probate is a process where your will is validated and it is carried out in a surrogate’s court where the testator resided and/or owned estate during his lifetime. During this legal process, estate debts, taxes and other expenses are paid, and the estate is administered by distributing property among the beneficiaries so named in the will. The executor named in the will is tasked with the responsibility of initiating probate, and this he does by filing a petition of letters testamentary, along with the original last will and death certificate of the decedent. The letters testamentary are what authorizes him to conduct all that he’ll now he doing in order to settle the estate. It is his legal backing. He must then contact all involved parties such as the beneficiaries and surviving family members of the deceased, creditors and debtors of the estate, and a probate lawyer if he so wishes. Having a probate lawyer is recommended as they’ll guide the executor all through the complex and tedious probate process.
Dying without a will
When you fail to have a will before death occurs, or should your will be declared invalid due to inconsistencies with the state laws, your estate will be declared intestate and will hence be distributed according to state laws. The New York law states that the first $50,000 and half your property will go to your spouse, while the rest goes to your children. In cases where the deceased is childless, the spouse gets the entirety of the estate after estate taxes and debts have all been cleared. If you have neither spouse nor kids, your parents will be your beneficiaries if they are still alive but if not, then your siblings. In the absence of either, your estate goes to nephews and nieces. Should no relative be found, your entire estate becomes the property of New York.