and Your Family
Staten Island Will and Testament
A last will and testament is a legally enforceable document that allows you to define what you want to happen to your estate once your pass away. It allows you to control how your wealth is transferred, state who is to manage your estate, and who is to serve as guardian of your minor children. Without a will, the fate of your property is in the hands of the state of New York. However, it is important to understand that your will can only affect the property that is part of your probate estate. If you have other property such as retirement plans, insurance policies, or property in trusts, that property will not be affected by the terms of your will. It will pass to the appropriate beneficiaries outside of your will. To learn more about the importance of a will, and what property you can transfer with a will, contact an experienced Staten Island will and testament lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.Absence of a will
A will is a critical part of your estate plan. A will allows you to control what happens to your property when you pass away. If you do not write a will, the state of New York will decide what happens to your property. In other words, New York will write a will for you based on the rules of intestate succession. You may not be happy with how your property is distributed.
As a Staten Island will and testamenty lawyer will explain, without a will surviving spouse and your children are your next of kin. Thus, under New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law § 4-1.1, your property will be distributed as follows:
- Survived by spouse. If you are survived by a spouse and no children or grandchildren, your spouse will receive 100% of your assets.
- Survived by spouse and children. If you are survived by both a spouse and children, they all share in your estate, with your spouse will receiving more. Your surviving spouse will receive the first $50,000 of your estate, plus 50% of the balance, while your children will share equally in the remaining 50% of your estate. Your grandchildren will receive your deceased’s child’s share.
- Survived by children. If you are survived by children but no spouse, then your estate will be split equally among your children. If any of your children die before you and leave issue (children), your grandchildren (whose parent is your child) will inherit the share that would have been your child's share.
- Survived by parents. If you are not survived by a spouse, children, or grandchildren, but you are survived by one or both of your parents, then your parents will share equally in 100% of your estate.
- Survived by brothers and sisters. If you are survived by siblings, but not by a spouse, children, grandchildren or parents, then your siblings share in 100% of your assets.
If you are not survived by a spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, or siblings, the statute goes on to state who your next of kin is.
While you may be satisfied with your next of kin receiving a portion of your estate, you may also have preferred for other people such as additional relatives and nonrelatives to also share in your estate. The only way to ensure that your property goes to those you want to receive it is by stating so in a will.Requirements for a valid will
As a will and testament attorney in Staten Island will explain, in order for a will to valid and survive a will contest, it must be created and executed in a manner that is consistent with New York law.
- Age and mental capacity requirement. According to New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law § 3-1.1, a testator must have testamentary capacity. This means that the testator must have been at least 18 years old when he or she executed the will. This also means that the testator must have been of “sound mind.” If, for example, at the time the will was executed the testator suffered from a medical problem such as dementia that prevented him from understanding what it meant to make a will, then that testator would have lacked testamentary capacity and the will would be invalid.
- Signature requirement. New York law requires that the testator sign the will at the end, or direct another person to sign it while in the testator’s presence.
- Witnesses. The signing of the will must be witnessed by at least two disinterested parties who must also sign the will. If a witness is “interested,” meaning the witness is also a beneficiary, that beneficiary’s disposition will fail unless there is a third witness who is disinterested.
- Writing. The will must be in writing as New York generally does not accept oral wills.
In addition, if there is evidence that the will was created while the testator was under undue influence, under duress, or that the will was fraudulent, the Surrogate’s Court will not allow it to be probated.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
A last will and testament is essential to any estate plan. Without a will, there is a chance that a part of your estate will fall into intestacy. To ensure that your will is drafted in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law, and that is consistent with your needs, contact a will and testament attorney serving Staten Island who has experience. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 2 decades of experience representing clients in complex estate matters, including drafting wills, trusts, and other estate documents. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Suffolk County, Bronx, Long Island, and Westchester County.