Preserving & Protecting Your Family’s Assets & Legacy

The benefits of creating a will in New York

Having a valid will benefits New York residents. The main benefit of creating a will is that it gives individuals the ability to leave property and possessions to the people of their choice.

An individual who dies without a will is considered to have died intestate. If a person dies intestate, then his or her estate is divided in accordance with New York law, which is not always consistent with the deceased person’s wishes. Under New York law, the estate is generally divided between a surviving spouse and children. In the absence of these parties, various other family members may claim all or part of the estate.

Nominating An Executor

When creating a will, a person can nominate the person he or she wishes to have appointed as Executor after his or her own death. An Executor controls and manages the estate upon the death of the person who drafted the will. The Executor is also responsible for distributing property upon death. Those who commonly act as Executors include a close relative, friend, attorney or bank. The Executor may also be named as a recipient of property in the will. It is permissible and recommended to name a second Executor in case the first one is unable to satisfy the necessary duties.

Requirements of a will

There are several requirements that must be met in order for a will to be valid. For example, a will must be in writing. The document must also be signed in front of two witnesses who are not mentioned in the will; however, it is not necessary for the witnesses to know the contents of the will. They are only required to sign the will next to their current addresses. New York does not require notarization of the document, but the will should contain an affidavit of attesting witnesses which must be notarized.

Leaving people out of a will

Generally, a person who creates a will can leave any person out of the will that he or she wants to leave out. However, New York law provides protections to spouses, by preventing them from receiving nothing from a deceased person’s estate. If a spouse is intentionally left out of a will, he or she is usually allowed to go to court and claim a portion of the estate, exercising his or her right of election.

However, if a child feels that he or she was left out of a will by mistake, or because of undue influence or fraud, the child may go to court and challenge the will. If a will contest is anticipated it may be advisable for the client to execute a trust to avoid probate.

Modifications to a will

If modifications are necessary after creating a will, you may not want to make the changes on the original will. Depending on what you write on the will, you could invalidate the will, causing you to die intestate.

There are two options for modifying the contents of a will. One is by adding a codicil, or addenda, which outlines the changes. Like the original will, a codicil must be signed in front of two witnesses. The other way to modify a will is simply to create an entirely new will with the changes included. This is the most common method used to modify wills.

Additional benefits of having a will

In addition to ensuring proper asset distribution, a will can appoint a guardian to care for minor children after death. Having a will as part of a comprehensive estate plan can also help a person avoid paying estate taxes.

An individual considering creating a will can benefit from speaking to an experienced estate planning attorney. The attorney can identify proper legal solutions and assist with crafting a unique estate plan.

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