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What are the basic requirements for drafting wills in New York?

When a New Yorker decides to take the necessary steps to create an estate plan and craft a will, the basics will sometimes get lost in the process. However, it is imperative to remember that there are some baseline legal requirements for legal wills. The person who creates the will - the testator - must be a certain age, must be of sound mind, and there must be witnesses to its signature. This must be remembered when drafting estate planning documents.

A person who is making a will must be 18-years-old. The state does not recognize the rights of someone who is under 18 to make a will, nor do they have the legal capacity to do so. The person must also be of sound mind. This might be difficult to understand for some, but what it basically means is that the person is lucid and clearheaded. They will have a grasp of the reason the will is being created and understand the property they own and what will be in the will. Even those who are considered mentally disabled can make a will if they are deemed to understand what the will is and know the nature of their property.

A New York will must have two witnesses. They are required to see the testator write his or her signature to the document at its end or they must see the testator's acknowledgement that the document is theirs. The witnesses are also required to sign their names to the document and include their addresses. A holographic will is legal in New York. This is a will that is handwritten, but it is only valid if the testator is a member of the Armed Forces when armed conflict is taking place. It must be in the person's handwriting. Similarly, an oral will is also valid if it is done by someone who is in the Armed Forces during armed conflict.

Having a will is an integral part of an estate plan. Those who would like to take out a will should understand the foundational criteria for doing so. A legal professional who is experienced in all aspects of estate planning can be of assistance when crafting wills.

Source: statelaws.findlaw.com, "New York Wills Laws," accessed on Nov. 15, 2017

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