How to Make a Will in New York?
5 min read

How to Make a Will in New York?

Why should I create a Will? What are the requirements for a valid Will in New York? This article discusses to process of writing a Will in New York and how you can ensure that your documents are valid! Keep reading to learn more!

Share this article:

More than half of all U.S. adults haven't made their Last Will and Testament. It's important to have a Will in New York if you want to control your legacy. Although many people assume they don't have enough assets to make a Will worthwhile, it's actually crucial that you have a Will, especially in New York. This article outlines the key steps and considerations involved in making a will in New York.

Why is it Important to Have a Will in New York?

A Will is a legal document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. Without a Will, your property will be distributed according to Texas' intestacy laws, which might not align with your wishes. For more on the consequences of dying without a Will in Texas, check out the article What Happens If You Die Without a Will In New York? By creating a Will, you have control over the distribution of your estate.  

Requirements for a Valid Will in New York

To ensure that your Will is legally valid in New York, it must comply with certain legal requirements outlined in the New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL). Here’s what you need to show in order to make sure your Will is valid in New York:

The person creating the Will, who is known as the testator, must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. This means they must understand the nature and consequences of creating a Will, be aware of the extent of their assets, and comprehend that they are bequeathing their assets to beneficiaries. The Will must be in writing. It can be typewritten or printed. New York doesn’t recognize oral Wills. New York also does not recognize handwritten (holographic) Wills unless they are made by a member of the Armed Forces. The testator must sign the Will at the end of the document. 

The Will must be witnessed by at least two people who are at least 18 years old. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries named in the Will. This means that you can’t have your children or spouse as witnesses. The witnesses can be present at the same time and must sign the Will in the presence of the testator. Alternatively, the witnesses can sign it within 30 days after its creation.

A Will doesn’t need to be formally notarized in New York. However, it can be helpful to have the Will notarized because then it will be self-proving in court. If a Will is self-proved, that means that the court deems it valid and authentic without witnesses having to testify in court.

Steps for Writing Your Own Will in New York

It's easy to make your own Will in New York without the involvement of a lawyer. To get started, you have to gather information about your assets, liabilities, and beneficiaries. 

Step 1:  Make a List of Your Assets: Before drafting your Will, it's essential to take stock of your assets. They include real estate, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and any other property you own.  

Step 2:  Choose an Executor: An executor is the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will. This individual will manage your estate, settle debts, and ensure your assets are distributed as you directed. Don't forget to name an alternate executor in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve in the role.

Step 3: Make Beneficiary Designations: Identify who you want to include as beneficiaries in your Will. This is the step that people associate most closely with "writing a will." This is where you decide who will inherit your assets. Specify the beneficiaries' full names and their relationship to you.

Step 4: Name Guardians for Minors: If you have minor children, designate a guardian who will take care of them. Make sure to discuss this responsibility with the chosen guardian beforehand. Since there's no guarantee that your guardian will outlive you or be able to serve, make sure you also name an alternate, or even two.

Step 5: Disposition of Assets: Outline how your assets should be distributed. You can be as specific as you'd like, whether it's a particular piece of jewelry, a car, a sum of money, or a percentage of your estate.

Step 6: Include a Residuary Clause: You won't name a beneficiary for every single thing you own, so you should include a residuary clause that disposes of assets that aren't mentioned elsewhere in your Will or Trust. This ensures that any overlooked assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Step 7. Name Alternative Beneficiaries: In case a beneficiary predeceases you, designate alternative beneficiaries.

Step 8:  Witnesses: When you're ready to sign your Will, gather two witnesses who are over age 18. The witnesses do not have to sign the will at the same time as each other. As noted above, if you want to make your will self-proving, get the Will notarized. 

Step 9:  Make Copies and Store the Will: Always make copies of the Will and safeguard them along with the original. Be sure to store your Will in a safe and accessible place, and inform your executor of its location. Don't put it in a bank safe deposit box, because it could take extra time before the bank allows someone to access it. Inform at least one other person of where they can find your Will.

Step 10:  Periodically Review the Will: Life circumstances change, so it's a good idea to review and update your will periodically, especially after major life events like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption, a move, or significant asset acquisitions. FastWill makes this process easy. You can update or write a new Will any time.

Write a Valid New York Will Now

If you live in the Big Apple, be sure that you understand the law and follow the instructions to ensure your will is legally binding. FastWill can help you make a Will that is informed by AI, but is backed by real lawyers, so you never have to worry about researching the law yourself. At FastWill we know that each person's situation is unique, so we give you plenty of options that fit your specific needs and circumstances.

Scroll Down
Share this article:
Let’s begin! First, what’s your name?

Your name that’s stated on your driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport.