The preparation and execution of a Last Will is an important part of a person’s estate planning. A Will along with documents such as a Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust, can all be utilized to express a person’s desires and intentions regarding his property and personal affairs.
Many posts provided by the New York Probate Lawyer Blog discuss the need to expend the time and effort required to prepare and finalize a Will so that it fully provides for estate distribution. New York City Estate Administration attorneys assist clients in reviewing their assets and developing plans that most effectively reflect the client’s wishes.It is important to prepare a proper Will and it is equally essential that the Will be properly maintained so that the probate process can be completed without complications. A recent case decided by Manhattan Surrogate Nora Anderson on March 2, 2017 entitled Estate of Polan involved a number of problems that proper Will preparation and maintenance can avoid.
In Polan the decedent’s Will was more than 20 years old. The execution of the Will had not been supervised by an attorney. It is always preferable to have a Will signing done under the supervision of an attorney. The estate laws provide certain presumptions that a Will is properly executed when an attorney is involved. Also, while a Will’s effectiveness does not expire no matter how many years have passed since its execution, problems can arise if there is a need to locate Will witnesses and other persons who would have been familiar with the preparation and execution of the document. In Polan, the Court allowed the Will to be admitted as an ancient document.
Another issue that arose in Polan was that the Will contained two lines which had been deleted with black ink and the insertion of an additional provision providing for a secondary beneficiary of personal property. After examining the evidence, the Surrogate found that the blacked out lines were made before the Will was signed and, therefore, were part of the admitted Will. However, since the insertion of the typed secondary beneficiary language was found to have occurred after the Will was signed, this language was determined not to be a part of the admitted Will.
As can be seen by Polan, it is necessary to prepare a Will in proper form and to update the Will periodically to avoid any possible concerns regarding its proof of validity. Whenever deletions or changes to a Will may be desired, it is best to prepare a completely new document to be executed with proper witnesses and under the supervision of an attorney. Deletions and corrections that appear on an original Will offered for probate can result in estate litigation and a delay in settlement of the estate.
I have represented clients throughout the New York City area with all different types of issues regarding probate and estate administration. Call me now for a free discussion of any issues you have regarding an estate or trust. Surrogate’s Court proceedings and estate procedures can be complicated and a thorough review of these matters is essential.
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.