In 2020, Gallup did a survey and found that only 45% of Americans have a will. Wills play an essential role in determining how the courts distribute assets and personal belongings after someone’s departure.
New York has regulations and requirements for drafting and executing a valid will. Knowing these requirements provides peace of mind, ensuring the will is valid.
Age and mental capacity
To create a valid will in New York, you must be at least 18 years old. Additionally, you must possess a sound mind and memory. This requirement means that when you create the will, you should fully grasp the nature of the document, the assets you own and the consequences of the decisions you make.
While some states may accept oral wills under certain conditions, New York requires a written document for a will to be valid.
You, the testator (the person creating the will), need to sign the will at the end. If a physical impediment prevents you from signing the will yourself, you can instruct someone else to sign on your behalf. However, this person must sign in your presence and under your clear direction.
Witnessing the will
Your will must include the signature of at least two credible witnesses. These witnesses should sign the will within 30 days of either watching you sign the will or having you confirm to them that the signature on the will is yours. Additionally, they must be people who are not receiving anything from your will.
No requirement for notarization
New York does not require you to notarize wills for them to be legal. But, if you want to make your will “self-proving,” both you and your witnesses can visit a notary. A court can accept a self-proving will without reaching out to the witnesses, speeding up the probate process.
To protect your assets and honor your final wishes, ensure your will meets New York’s requirements. By understanding and following the necessary steps, you can solidify the validity of your will, eliminating room for disputes or misunderstandings.