New York Last Will and Testament Form

As soon as someone dies, their family members often find it difficult and confusing to address issues of inheritance. Therefore, a well-timed solution to the problem is an ultimate act of respect and care for one’s relatives. It is important to know how and when exactly the estates should be distributed to the heirs.

With a lapse of time, the procedure is getting easier. Nevertheless, one must gain essential legal literacy to make the right decision. In this article, we are going to shed light on New York Last Will and Testament Form, provide useful links and a step-by-step guide on filling out this document.

Definition of a Last Will

A Last Will is an essential legal instrument designed to protect a wide range of people’s estates, including fiduciary funds and digital assets. It doesn’t only protect estates but also appoints guardians for elderly people, small children, and pets. The last will can be performed either in written or oral form. It can also be written by hand, then it is called a holographic form.

A Will must be composed by an adult person of sound mind, who is fully capable of making decisions.

Although not obligatory, this document carries out many important functions and is strongly recommended to be filled out. Among them are:

  1. Giving estates to people or organizations;
  2. Appointment of a person to take care of one’s parents or children (a guardian);
  3. Appointment of an executor, or a person who takes control of fulfillment of conditions of a Will;
  4. Appointment of a trusted person to control the estate left for minor children.

What happens if I don’t leave a Last Will?

As we mentioned before, you aren’t forced to fill out this document and if you don’t do it, you aren’t subject to a criminal penalty. But this may result in other consequences - you will have no control over your property and you don’t know if your children or elderly parents will be protected. Your estate will be distributed automatically among both close and distant relatives. In rare cases when a person has neither spouses nor distant relatives, all estate goes to the state.

Can I Do It on My Own or Should I Hire an Attorney?

Nowadays everyone interested can find and fill out an online form without any help. However, consulting an attorney is strongly recommended, especially when there is a need for a change in a Will or you wish to disinherit someone, which happens quite often. You can find out more about these situations on our website.

What Are the Main Requirements in New York State?

The requirements for a Will are different for each state. To meet all standards of the New York state, you must:

  1. Sign the paper in front of two witnesses, state your name and address;
  2. Announce to witnesses that it is your own wish to sign this document;
  3. Two witnesses must sign the paper and state their addresses in front of you.

All this must be done within thirty days. It is more convenient to perform these actions on the same day. The only alternative document except your signature is a self-proving affidavit.

It is important to say that there is no need to notarize your Will in the State of New York. In case you intend to make your Will self-proving, you and your witnesses can sign a special affidavit. It is considered a good measure to speed up the probate.

Also, with the help of a Will, you can appoint the executor, who will take full control over the accomplishment of the wishes stated in the document.

How to Change or Revoke a Will

According to the New York State law, you can do it anytime you want. You can bring about changes in a Will either with the help of a Codicil or, if there are too many, create a new document.

If there is a need to revoke the document, you can do it in the following ways:

  1. Tear, cut, burn, destroy the will or tell someone else to do it in the presence of you and the two witnesses;
  2. Compose a new will;
  3. Extend your will with writing that you are revoking the will with the same formalities you used to make the original will.

To find out more about Wills, please address the laws of New York State: NY Est Pow & Trusts L § 1-2.19 (2014), Signing requirements.

Step-by-step Guide on Filling out the Last Will

Now we are going to present step-by-step instructions on what to include in a Will and Testament Form.

1. The first section: At the top of the page, you must provide the information about the testator (a person who leaves the inheritance). The information should be presented in the following order:
  • Name;
  • City of residence;
  • Description of the rest of the section;
  • Reading of the Expenses and Taxes.
2. The Second section: Here, you have to fill out the information about an executor, or a person, who is responsible for the accomplishment of a testator’s wishes.

It is highly recommended to add one more representative, in case the first one is unable to carry out their duties. Look through the first section for the correct order of information.

3. The Third section: In this section, you are going to present the data about beneficiaries or the people who will receive parts of your estate. Here you will need to write all their names, addresses, and how they are related to a testator (you). Additionally, you will have to state four (!) last digits of their Social Security Number and describe which assets each of them will get.
4. The fourth section contains all of the entitled parts of the document;
5. The fifth section contains the signatures of a testator and witnesses. Please note: The last will must be performed in the presence of two witnesses during thirty days. Otherwise it is invalid!

The information comes as follows:

  • The date of the testator’s signature (for example, 09/10/2019),
  • The signature,
  • Testator’s name printed in a special field

The first witness:

  • The signature
  • The residential address

The second witness: see the first witness

6. The sixth section contains the document called Affidavit of Testament. Carefully review it and make sure it includes the following information: the state, the county, names of a testator, names of both witnesses, then a testator’s signature, and those of two witnesses. Don’t revert this sequence!
7. The Seventh section. If you notarize your will, this section will be completed by the proper authorities. However, this is not necessary.

Legal Institutions in New York State

To make filling out the Last Will even more convenient, we will provide you with general information on the main institutions of New York City.

New York Family Court hears cases concerning children and families. There is an office in each New York’s county:

1. Bronx

2. Kings(Brooklyn)

3. New York (Manhattan)

4. Queens

5. Richmond (Staten Island)

General working hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.To learn more about the Family Court, please call the official hotline: 212 - 347 - 3700.

Surrogate Courts

Surrogate courts address the issues of decedents as well as the probate of wills. It also hears cases on adoptions. Please note: due to the pandemic, you have to call the hotline or send an email before coming to a courthouse. Before you decide to go to court, please check the information on the website!

Addresses and the main information are given below:

1. New York County

2. Bronx County

3. Queens County

4. Kings County (Brooklyn)

5. Richmond County (Staten Island)

The Bottom Line

There aren’t so many things in our life that are fully guaranteed, and although many would like to live a long and happy life, this isn’t always true. We highly recommend you composing your Last Will as soon as possible. Even if you think you’re too young for this, making a preliminary list of your valuables won’t be a mistake. This will be a great base for this document in the future.