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. Another important consideration is making sure that a Will is properly signed and executed. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”, sets forth the requirements for proper Will execution. For instance, there must be two witnesses in a Will. Also, there are requirements that the witnesses see the testator sign the Will or have such signature acknowledged by the testator. When a Will is not duly executed there is often a Will Contest by the decedent’s next of kin. The Surrogate’s Court is very concerned regarding the authenticity of Wills and can deny probate to a document if it is not properly executed. When this happens, the testator’s intentions cannot be fulfilled and the estate assets are distributed to the decedent’s next of kin according to the laws of intestacy.
In a recent article in the New York Post on May 9, 2018 entitled “Millionaire leaves fortune to building workers – but nephew is after the money”, it was reported that a man who was unmarried and had no children left his $4.2 million estate to the workers who were employed at his apartment building. The problem was that his alleged Will was only a mere handwritten note which was not witnessed. Due to the apparent invalidity of this note, the man’s nephew, who is his closest heir, is challenging the validity of the note in the Manhattan Surrogate’s Court.
I have handled many Manhattan Estate cases and Will Contests. It is unfortunate when a person intends to name beneficiaries for his estate but does not devote the time and effort to make sure his estate plan is correctly prepared and finalized. Please call me now if you have a question or issue regarding the validity of a Will or the probate process in New York. I can provide a free initial review.
An experienced New York trusts and estates lawyer can assist with guidance for proper Will preparation and execution. New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in New York in Trusts and Estates matters and Surrogate’s Court proceedings throughout the past 30 years in Suffolk and Nassau and other counties. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York estate matter, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org, for an initial consultation.