New York Laws Regarding Wills

Filed Under Estate Administration, Per Diem Legal Services · Tagged:  

When it comes to laws regarding wills, every state has their own requirements as to what is legally acceptable.  These laws are designed to protect their citizens from being taken advantage of when they are older or ill.

In New York, you have to be legally capable, which means you have to be at least 18 years old, of sound mind and memory, and you also must be making the will of your own choice and not be being forced by someone else. If any of these circumstances are not met, then the will is not legally binding.  Now, if the will is handwritten, which in these days is pretty rare, then two disinterested people must certify that the handwriting is actually the right person’s.  If the will is typed then the only handwritten part allowed is the signatures.  This makes sense as this helps guarantee that there are not unauthorized changes made to the will by one or more unscrupulous beneficiaries.  You can even have an oral will, although the requirements are very strict with that, naturally.  Basically you can only have an oral will if you are in the armed forces during a time of armed conflict and three witnesses need to testify that they heard the will being said.  Obviously, for most people, that is not going to ever come into play.

New York law also allows trusts to be set up through a will.  A trust is a legal construct that allows a surrogate, someone who the deceased person trusted to act as they would have, to distribute the money and take care of property as the deceased would have wanted it handled.  This can be a lawyer but most often it is one member of the family who then legally has certain responsibilities.

Once you die, there is then a legal process called probate which is carried out in the county of your residence, no matter where you actually died.  This process allows the debts to be paid and all the assets transferred to the people and beneficiaries you wanted it to go to.  The people who survived you have to initiate the process with presenting your will in court and then eventually settle your estate once all the matters are taken care of in the correct legal way.

Contact the Law Offices of Ronald J. Salvato to help you with any will administration needs you have.