Nassau County Holographic Will

A will is an estate planning document that gives your instructions as to how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. It also names an executor who will be responsible for managing your estate and distributing your assets. If you have minor children, you can use your will to name who will be their guardian. In order to be valid New York law requires that certain rules must be followed in order for the will to be valid. NY EPTL § 3-2.1. If those formalities are not followed a court may find that the will is invalid and refuse to honor it. There are several different types of wills and they do not all have the same requirements. A holographic will is one this is entirely handwritten and signed by you as the testator. Unlike most other types of wills witnesses are not required to make a holographic will valid. There are other rules that must be followed to determine whether or not a holographic will is valid. Regardless of the type of will that you drafted, in order to ensure that your will as well as any other estate planning document that you have is legally sufficient, it is wise to consult an experienced Nassau County estate planning attorney who will explain to you what is required to draft and execute a valid will in New York.

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Requirements for a valid will in New York

Like most other states New York law has very specific requirements as to how a will must be executed in order for a court to determine that the will is valid. The general rules are that the will must be signed at the end by the testator. If the testator is physically unable to sign, it can be signed with the help of another person or another person at the direction of the testator. There must also be two witnesses to the signing of the will who also sign the will. NY EPTL § 3-2.1(a)(4) If these formal requirements are not followed, the Surrogate's Court judge may refuse to admit the will to probate, or the will may be subjected to a will contest.

Holographic will

A holographic will is a special type of will with distinct requirements for execution. A holographic will is a will that is entirely handwritten by the testator. It is signed by the testator but there are no witnesses. NY EPTL § 3-2.2. The purpose of New York law's requirements that two witnesses observe the testator sign the will is to reduce the possibility of forged wills being probated. So a holographic will does pose proof problems since there are no witnesses. Because of the unusual circumstances that people in the military may find themselves in, a holographic will is valid if written by a member of the United States armed forces or someone accompanying a member of the armed forces during a time of conflict. It is only valid for up to a year after the testator ceases serving with the military. At that point the testator must execute a new will.

Consequences of dying without a valid will

It is important to understand that the a holographic will will only be probated if it was executed under extremely specific and extremely rare circumstances. If those exact conditions are not present a holographic will is not valid and will not be probate. This means that if the person passed away without ever having properly executed another will that person will have died intestate.

In New York if you do not leave will your estate will be disposed of according to the laws related to intestate succession. NY EPTL § 4-1.1. According to the law your children will inherit your entire estate in equal shares. If you have a spouse but no children, then your spouse will inherit everything. If you have both a surviving spouse and children, then your spouse will inherit the first $50,000 of your estate, plus 50% of the balance. The remaining portion of your estate will be distributed in equal shares to your children. If you have no spouse and no children, put you have surviving parents, then your parents will inherit your entire estate. If you have no surviving spouse, children, or parents, then your siblings inherit everything. If you die leaving no surviving spouse, children, parents or siblings, then the state will look for other surviving relatives.

In other words without a valid will the state will decide who gets your property. You will have no say. Thus, having a valid will is critical to your estate plan.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Under most circumstances holographic wills are not valid in New York. If you have a handwritten will, in order to ensure that your wishes will be followed after you pass away it is critical that you draft and execute a new will that is in compliance with New York law. To ensure that your will and other estate planning documents are properly drafted and executed, it is important to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates will help you develop an overall estate plan that reflects your individual goals. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your estate plan.

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