Articles Posted in Last Will

There are many requirements in New York estate law concerning the proper execution of a Last Will and Testament.  The basic statute setting forth these rules is Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (“EPTL”) section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”.    The validity of a Will requires that a testator sign the Will at the end and that there be two attesting witnesses.

When the statutory formalities to execute a Will are not adhered to there may be estate litigation when the document is presented for probate.  An interested party may file Objections to the Will that result in a Will Contest.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains many articles concerning estate administration and the probating of Wills.

A Will can be changed or revised as many times as a person desires to do so.  However, there are also certain requirements that must followed in order to accomplish a successful revocation.    EPTL section 3-4.1 entitled “Revocation of Wills; effect on codicils” contain rules regarding revocation.  The statute says that a Will can be revoked or changed by executing another Will or by certain acts of mutilation or obliteration.

It is important for a New York domiciliary to engage is proper estate planning.  A lot of time and effort usually goes into creating a Last Will, Living Trust, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and other planning initiatives.  It is always a tragedy when a well thought out estate is thwarted by errors relating to ambiguous or defective Will or Trust provisions or defective execution procedures.

The New York Surrogate’s Courts are filled with cases involving Contested Wills.  Estate Litigation surrounding the preparation and execution of a Will not only disrupts the testator’s estate plan, it delays the settlement of an estate.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed the requirements for executing a Last Will.  Statutory requirements are contained in Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”.  When the guidelines of the statute are not explicitly complied with, the validity of the document may be questioned.  Unless a Will is validated by the Surrogate’s Court and admitted to probate, the provisions and dispositions in the Will are not mandated to be followed.  Even a slight variation can cause controversy.

Estate planning in New York is important.  The creation of a Last Will and Testament and other documents such as a Living Trust, Health Care Proxy, Living will and a Power of Attorney, allows a person to control the disposition of assets and provide directions regarding personal decision-making.

It requires a lot of time and effort to create and finalize these papers.  Assets must be reviewed as well as beneficiary designations and property dispositions.  Alternate dispositions need to be considered in the event primary beneficiaries pre-decease a testator.  The selection of fiduciaries such as Executors and Trustees, and their possible successors, need to be considered.  Finally, all the documents that need to be signed must be reviewed and properly executed.  Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements” provides strict rules regarding the execution of Wills.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published numerous articles regarding the execution of Wills and Will Contests.

Once the above papers are signed it is also important to be certain that the original documents are maintained in a secure location.  The various ways to keep these papers include a safe at home or in a secure filing cabinet or on file with an attorney.  Sometimes the papers can be placed in a safe-deposit box although this can present problems after death since access may be restricted without a Court Order.

When a Last Will and Testament is submitted to the Surrogate’s Court, the document is always reviewed for due execution.  The requirements needed to properly sign a Will are located in Estates, Powers and Trusts Law section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles regarding Will execution.  The statute is quite explicit and requires that there be a writing and that there be two witnesses.  Of course, there tends to be many variations that arise when a Will is offered for probate.  Sometimes the witnesses to the Will who may be called upon to testify cannot remember the Will signing ceremony.  In other instances, a witness may have died or it may not be possible to locate the witness.

Typically, when a Will is signed, the witnesses sign an affidavit called a self-proving affidavit that sets forth all of the elements regarding proper execution.  However, when an interested party seeks discovery under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act 1404 entitled “Witnesses to be examined; proof required”, or there is a Will Contest, the witnesses need to provide in person testimony.

The execution of a New York Will must comply with the requirements of the estate statutes. It is important to follow these rules so that the Will be validated and admitted to probate. There have been numerous posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog explaining the need for the proper execution of Wills. The basic estate law dealing with this matter is Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 3-2.1 which is entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”.

This statute sets forth a number of requirements including: (i) that a Will be signed at the end of the document: (ii) that there be at least two witnesses; (iii) that the testator sign the Will in the presence of the witnesses; and (iv) that the testator declare to the witnesses that he is signing his Will. Continue reading

The preparation and execution of a Last Will in New York requires careful attention to detail. When a Will is being formulated a New York Estate lawyer typically obtains information from a testator regarding assets and intentions concerning beneficiaries.

Since the purpose of estate planning is to insure that a person’s assets are disposed of properly, it stands to reason that a significant amount of time and effort be devoted to examining these issues. For example, the New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published numerous articles that point out that a Last Will typically only controls assets that are held by a decedent in his name alone. Assets that pass by operation of law, such as jointly owned assets or those that have designated beneficiaries such as life insurance or retirement accounts, are not controlled by Will provisions. Therefore, it is important for a testator and for an estate lawyer to understand the nature of the asset ownership so that the plan and the Will dispose of the estate according to a testator’s wishes. Continue reading

Preparing an estate plan is important. When a person dies without a Will, he has forfeited his opportunity to create a plan that actually reflects his intentions. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles talking about intestate estates (where there is no Will). In these situations Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 4-1.1, entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate”, controls the designation of the persons who inherit the estate.

You need to prepare an estate plan. This plan can include a Last Will and Living Trust. However, it is equally important that extreme care and attention be given to the preparation and execution of these documents. An attorney, such as a Manhattan estate attorney or Brooklyn estate attorney, can assist you with the details and provisions that you provide in the documents. If the terms and language in the Will are confusing or not effective, your intentions will not be carried out. Continue reading

Wills in New York are required to be executed in accordance with the statutory guidelines. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”, sets forth very definite rules for Will authenticity. For example, a Will generally needs to be in writing and signed by the testator at the end of the document. There also must be two witnesses to the execution. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles discussing the rules and other issues concerning the making and signing of Wills.

The Surrogate’s Court strictly adheres to the rules regarding Will execution. The Court wants to follow the statutory directions and be certain that the Will that is probated is authentic.  There are times when the original of a decedent’s Will cannot be located. This situation was discussed in a recent case decided by Manhattan Surrogate Nora Anderson on December 1, 2017 entitled Matter of Raleigh. In Raleigh the decedent signed his Will in an attorneys office in New Jersey. The original Will was then mailed to the attorney’s office in New York where the attorney put the Will in the client’s file and stored it with a storage company.  Continue reading

Estate planning in New York involves the preparation of a number of documents including a Last Will and Testament. It is not unusual that during the course of a lifetime a person prepares and executes a series of Wills.

It is a common practice that a Will should be updated periodically. There are many reasons for such updates. It may be that early versions of a Will contain trust and guardianship provisions for a person’s minor children. Once the children have grown older there would no need for these provisions. In this regard, a person’s testamentary plan and intentions may change over time. A testator can change the dispositive provision of his Will as many times as desired. Sometimes the individuals named as beneficiaries may predecease the testator or need to be eliminated due to personal preferences. Continue reading

Estate planning is an important part of overall financial management. The preparation of a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust can provide a clear expression of a person’s desires regarding property disposition and personal affairs.

Once a Last Will and other documents are prepared and executed, it is important to safeguard them. Such papers can be maintained in a secure filing cabinet or personal safe. Sometimes these papers are held in the office of an attorney or placed into a safe-deposit box. While a safe deposit box may limit or inhibit their accessibility in situations of death or disability, the papers are secure. Nevertheless, alternative methods of storing estate planning papers may be more efficient for having them accessible when needed. Continue reading

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