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What is Probate? And How Often Should I Update My New York Will?

The word probate sounds like a discount you might get at a store…”it’s not a rebate but it’s a probate, you know they give you the cash back right there at the register you don’t even have to mail it in” But seriously, a probate proceeding in New York is a Surrogate’s Court proceeding to judicially determine whether the testator’s will was validly executed and to distribute the assets and deal with creditors and other issues. Additionally this proceeding appoints an executor to administer the estate. I realize that’s a bit of a mouthful…In case you’re not familiar with the terms testator just means the person who passed away that had a will. And beneficiary means the person(s) who were listed in the testator’s will.

As a rule of thumb, you should update your will as often as you need to. There are certain types of things that might want you to change your will such as. A financial gain or windfall. If you win the lottery that might seriously alter your intentions about the gifts in your will…perhaps you want to add people or increase beneficiaries gifts. Additionally at that point you might want to consider other options such as an estate or trust.

Another such example is if you get married, divorced or have additional children. These are all things which can effect how your will is interpreted. Individual circumstances vary and that’s why it’s important to speak with a good estate attorney who will understand your needs and give you good estate planning advice.

If you need estate planning advice from a New York attorney, contact Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.

Can my out of state will be probated in New York?

One question that some people have when considering their estate is whether a will from another state can be admissible to probate in New York.

New York has a foreign wills act, which allows a will to be admissible to probate if the will was validly executed under the law of the state where the will was executed. The will was validly executed under New York law. Or the will was validly executed under the law of the state where the testator was domiciled (living and planned to stay) at the time the will was executed or when the testator died.

In order to figure out whether an out of state (foreign) will can be admissible to probate in New York, you may consider speaking with a NY estate attorney. They will be able to explain how the laws apply to your specific situation and whether the testators will can be probated in New York. This applies if you’re the person trying to get the will probated or perhaps if you’re a person who doesn’t want the will to be probated. If there’s a chance you’ll have an estate fight it’s important to know where you stand legally.

If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.

Can I write my own will, without a witness, by myself and just sign it?

Can I write my own will, without a witness, by myself and just sign it?

On some television shows or movies people just write their own will with a pen and piece of paper. When a will is entirely self-written by the testator (the person whose will it is) and unwitnessed it is a holographic will. In New York, this type of will is generally not valid.  There are a few exceptions, where this type of will would be valid in New York including if it was written by a member of the armed forces during a war or written by a mariner at sea..these are however narrow exceptions.

If the handwritten will was properly witnessed and executed then the will might be valid and probable. If you have questions as to whether a self-written will is valid in New York you should contact a New York estate attorney.  If you don’t have a valid will then your estate may be distributed intestacy and your things may not end up being distributed to the people you intended.

If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.