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Do You Need a Last Will and Testament in New York?
A last will and testament is a legal document that recognizes your wishes on matters pertaining to the distribution of your assets as well as the protection and care of your kids’ wellbeing upon your demise. It determines who inherits your condo and whether you’d like a charity close to your heart to get a part of your estate. You could also use it to set up a business protection plan or create a trust to shelter or protect your assets, kids or spouse. Taking all these considerations into account, yes, you need a last will. Also, considering the alternative, creating a free last will in New York is the best thing you could do for your sake and the sake of your loved one.
What happens if you don’t make a will?
The state of New York, just like all the other states will invoke intestacy laws if you die without a will. Intestacy laws refer to the official set of regulations that guide the distribution of assets for persons who die without wills, legally called decedents.
- Intestacy laws applicable here have the following instructions:
- A surviving spouse inherits your entire estate unless you are survived by children. And if you leave behind kids without a spouse, your children will inherit your entire estate.
- On the other hand, if you leave behind a spouse and kids, your spouse gets the first ,000 from the estate and half of the estate while the kids inherit the rest.
- If you leave behind parents and no kids or spouse, parents or siblings inherit everything. Note that your estate will always go to your relatives closest in line to you.
- Note that children include, but are not limited to adoptive, biological or foster children.
Conditions that make your will valid
The law recognizes the creator of the last will and the testator. At the time of the will’s creation, the testator should be at least 18 years, of sound mind; capable of reasoning and making sound decisions.
The signing of the will: The testator should sign the will, and if they are unable to, someone else could sign the will in the presence of and under the direction of the testator. And the person signing for the testator must also sign their own name and address in the will. This person does not count as the witness.
Besides the testator’s signature, witnesses must sign the will at the same seating with the testator. This is the testator’s way of declaring that the will is theirs. You could also think of this as the witnesses’ way of acknowledging the testator’s signature. The state requires that witnesses sign the will within 30 days after the will springs to life. Besides signatures, witnesses should indicate their addresses. Otherwise, the will is deemed invalid.
For validity, the will should be in writing. The only exception to this is where oral (nuncupative) and holographic (handwritten) wills apply. These wills are acceptable in court if prepared by members of the armed forces when they are still in service during an armed conflict or war, or by a mariner. Note that at least two witnesses must vouch for the will’s validity. Also, the holographic and oral wills become invalid one year after the testator is discharged from duty for members of the armed forces and three years for members of the armed forces in the marines.
Beneficiaries: You have to name the beneficiaries of your estate in the free New York last will and testament. Beneficiaries include but not limited to corporations, individuals, associations, government agencies, counties, partnerships, and the state.
Changing a will
You can only change your will using a codicil; a legal amendment process for the will which should follow a similar procedure to the one followed when creating the original will. You cannot use a codicil to revoke a will wholly.
Revoking a will
You can revoke a will by executing/ creating a new will. Alternatively, a will gets revoked if it’s intentionally destroyed through burning, obliteration, or mutilation by the testator or another person acting under the direction of the testator and in the presence of 2 witnesses.
What to do when creating a last will
- Besides sticking to the statutory guidelines, you need to:
- Use the correct language when creating the will. By using the correct language, we mean using statements that highlight your intentions specifically.
- Be specific about the item you are giving your friend and if possible, include the unique details of the item. If you are creating a trust, leave specific.
- Appoint a guardian for your kids. This is essential if you have minor kids and if you wish for them to be taken care of by someone you trust. You should also name an alternate guardian. The guardian might have to manage your kids’ inheritance so, be careful about who you select.
- Name an executor. The executor should be someone you trust to follow your directives upon your death. You could appoint an alternate too.
- Create contingency plans. Spell out your contingency plans so that there is option 1, 2, or even 3 if someone named to do something passes on early.
Wherever you are in New York, Yonkers, New York City, Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo or any other city, you can get our free last will and testament forms today.