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3 Must-Haves For a Formal Will in N.Y.

What is required for a formal will in New York? The will requirements for every state will vary, so it's important to know what is required in your state. Otherwise, you run the risk of your loved ones and those named in your will running into legal trouble, or the possibility of your assets falling into the wrong hands.

There are a few different kinds of wills in New York, and a formal will is only one type. However, it is the most common one. The other kinds are only accepted in very limited circumstances. These include holographic (handwritten) wills and nuncupative (unwritten, e.g. video or audio) wills.

Most wills in New York are going to be formal. So, with that said, here are 3 must-haves for a formal will in New York:

  • Written. A formal will must be written, which generally means typewritten. As mentioned, the only other kind of written will in New York is a holographic will, which is handwritten and rarely accepted.
  • Signed at the end. The typewritten will must be signed by the testator at the very end of the will. However, if there happens to be writing below the testator's signature, it could still possibly be valid. The contents above the signature should not be affected so long as they are compatible with the contents below the testator's signature. But, to avoid confusion, a formal will should always be signed at the end.
  • In the presence of (at least) two witnesses. At the time that the testator signs the will, two witnesses must also be present and acknowledge that it is a will they've witnessed. They will then sign the will. The witnesses can also sign within a 30-day period as long as they include their names and addresses alongside their signatures.

Keep in mind, however, that these are very general will requirements. You may have other more specific questions.  Because the law is ever-changing, it's best to contact a local, experienced lawyer near you if you want to look into this estate planning process.

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