If you do a quick search online, you may find plenty of guides or “kits” that help you make a will. We do not recommend doing this on your own though. A will is an important document, and you want to be sure that there are no major errors made when it is drafted. This is why we recommend that you talk to an attorney who has experience writing wills before you try and do anything on your own.

How is a Will Made Legally Valid?

If you want a will to be legally valid in New York, you have to make sure that it meets a few different requirements. It must be:

  • Written on paper
  • Signed in front of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of the will
  • Acknowledged as a will when you are signing it
  • Signed by those two witnesses

You also have to be of sound mind when signing or adjusting this document. This rule exists so that a spouse or another family member would not be able to take advantage of someone who is struggling with a mental health disorder or a degenerative disease.

What Happens if My Will Isn’t Valid?

If you pass away and your will is not considered valid, the state acts as if you did not have a will at all. Your property will be distributed according to New York state law on intestacy. This means that your items will be passed on to family members, starting with the closest living relatives.

The spouse and children should be the first to receive any of your property that was not accounted for in estate planning documents. If you do not have a spouse or children, then parents or grandchildren would usually be entitled to the property. If none of these relatives exist or if they are no longer living, then the state continues to reach out to more and more distant relatives, from siblings to cousins, uncles, great-nieces, and whoever else would have an interest in your property.

Can Some Assets Be Left Out of a Will?

There are some assets that would not have to go through the probate process even if they are not specifically named in your will. Many types of assets allow you to name a beneficiary, and that is often all you have to do to ensure that it goes to the right person. This can apply to assets like:

  • Bank accounts
  • Retirement accounts
  • Pensions
  • Life insurance

Just check in occasionally and make sure that your beneficiaries on such accounts are up to date.

Talk to an Estate Planning Attorney

Planning for your estate is important, and writing a will is one of the most important steps of that process. When you are ready to make these plans, contact the Lauterbach Law Firm. Our experienced estate planning lawyers are ready to help you. Every estate is different, but we’ll take the time to develop a unique plan that gives you and your loved ones peace of mind.