Though there are similarities in the process to make a will in every state, there are important differences that you must know in order to execute a valid will. Every state, including New York, has its own laws surrounding wills, and you must follow these state-specific requirements when you make a will. Otherwise, the court can reject the will and determine it invalid. To make an online will in New York, be sure to finalize it in the way the state requires and that it meets any other special conditions. You also want to make sure you use an online will that is customized for New York.
Can I Make a Will Online in New York?
Yes, you can make a will online in New York. To do so, use an online will making service. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online last will and testament.
Here are the legal requirements for online will making in New York:
- You (the Testator) must be at least 18 years of age and be of sound mind.
- The will must be in writing. After making an online will, you must print it out and sign it. The state of New York does not allow digital-only wills.
- You must sign the will at the end of the document.
- You must have at least 2 attesting witnesses.
Your witnesses must attest your will within a 30-day period. You can either sign it in front of them, or you can acknowledge your signature, but they must attest to your signature (or acknowledgment) within 30 days—they must then sign their names (and include their addresses) at the end of the document.
Does New York Require a Notarized Will?
No, a will does not need to be notarized for it to be legally valid in New York. However, when a will is presented in the probate court, it must be validated. Having a notarized will can help the probate court to quickly validate the will and allow the executor of the estate to carry out the will. However, in most cases the will itself is not what gets notarized; instead, there is a separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit” which is notarized and attached to the will.
New York does allow for a will to be “self-proved.” It can be done at any time, and it can be done by request of the executor of the estate after death as well. Your witnesses will go before a notary public to make sworn statements (affidavits) that testify to the authenticity of the will; they will testify to the validity of its execution, that you were not under any undue influence to make the will, and that you were in all respects “of sound mind.”
These affidavits are then attached to the will, making it “self-proved.” The affidavits are the same as though your witnesses testified in court, meaning that the process of validating your will is generally quicker as the court can accept your will as valid without requiring the witnesses to appear to testify.
Can I Name an Executor in New York?
In New York, an executor can be named in an online will. The executor is the person designated to settle the estate and ensure that the will is followed after the Testator’s death. It is a good idea to name an executor in the will, and you want to choose someone you know well and trust. If you do not name an executor in your will, then the probate court will appoint someone (which may cause delays in the probate process).
New York, like all states, has its own laws regarding who can serve as an executor. In New York, the following is required:
- The executor must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
- The executor must be a United States citizen. A non-U.S. citizen living in New York may be accepted if there is a named co-executor who is a resident of the state, but only if the judge approves.
- The executor must not have any felony convictions.
- The executor may be rejected by the court if found unqualified due to “substance abuse, dishonesty, improvidence, a want of understanding,” as the court may reject someone who is unable to read and write in English.
New York does not require any special conditions to name an out-of-state executor, as long as they meet the above requirements. However, for practical purposes, it is usually better to name someone who lives nearby as the executor. The process of settling an estate can take weeks, months, or even longer sometimes.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in New York?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will. It is wise, however, to consult an estate planning attorney if you have a large or complex estate or if your will includes complicated conditions. In most cases, if you have a simple estate and your will is straightforward, online will making is a good option. You want to be sure to follow the steps required to finalize a will in New York, and it is best to use an online will making service with state-specific templates.
What Types of Wills Are Valid in New York?
Any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in New York, whether the will is made online or not.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in New York?
Holographic wills are wills that are handwritten and signed by the Testator (the person making the will) with no attesting witnesses. New York does allow for holographic wills under certain circumstances, which are:
- Military service members in active duty, and only valid up to one year after being discharged, or
- Mariners at sea, only valid for three years.
However, holographic wills often face delays in the probate court. It is always better, even if you fall under one of those above categories, to make a written, legally binding will.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in New York?
A nuncupative will is an oral will. Some individuals wish to leave oral wills on video. While nuncupative wills are not ideal, they are allowed in New York under certain conditions.
As with holographic wills, only military service members (valid for 1 year after discharge) or mariners at sea (valid for 3 years) can leave a nuncupative will and the court will recognize it. In addition, nuncupative wills must also have two witnesses.
Nuncupative wills are typically considered a last resort type of will; if someone is facing imminent death while serving in the military or as a merchant mariner at sea, they may leave a nuncupative will and the court can accept it as valid. But just like holographic wills, nuncupative wills can face legal complications which can cause delays in the probate process.
If time and health allow, a written, witnessed, and legally binding will is much better for avoiding legal delays when settling the estate.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in New York?
A living will is a separate legal document that contains instructions on medical decisions and end-of-life care; whereas, a last will and testament pertains to matters of your estate and matters of guardianship for minor children. A living will, which is also known as an advance directive, is its own legally binding document with its own requirements for making it valid. You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online; for more information on living wills and other medical directives in New York, you can go here.
In New York, these are the general requirements for a living will to be recognized as valid:
- You must include your name, indicating you are the person creating the Living Will.
- You must date the document.
- You must include a statement regarding your health care wishes.
- You must sign the document in front of two witnesses.
- You must have two witnesses sign and date the document, along with a statement attesting that you were not under any undue influence when signing.
It is not necessary to notarize the living will for it to be legally binding; however, it is always better to do so. You want to make sure you make copies of it as well, giving them to trusted family members and your medical providers.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in New York?
If you own property or if you have any minor children, it is vital that you make a will. Otherwise, the intestacy laws of New York will determine what happens to your property. The state will also appoint guardians for any minor children and name an executor for your estate. The intestacy distribution laws will divide your estate between surviving family members, which can become a lengthy legal process. Often, your estate can be held in probate for months or even years at a time. And if the court determines you have no surviving family members, the state will take ownership of your property.
If you want to distribute your estate to any friends or decide how it is divided between your family, you can only do that if you make a will. It is extremely important to appoint guardians for any minor children, making sure that they are secure if anything happens to you. You can make an online will in New York to include all of these provisions.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in New York?
Besides naming an executor for the estate, the following can be included when you make an online will in New York:
- You can name a guardian for minor children.
- You can name someone to oversee any property left to them.
- You can leave property or gifts to family members, friends, charities, or other organizations.
- You can name someone to care for any remaining pets.
- You can decide how to distribute family heirlooms.
- You can decide how to distribute any personal or sentimental items.
You can also decide how to distribute the inheritance (for instance, your child receives a monthly stipend or receives their inheritance at a certain age). Be sure to consult an attorney if you are placing any conditions in your will, as certain conditions may be considered illegal.
What Should Not Be Included in a Will in New York?
A last will and testament is not the right place for designating end-of-life care or funeral instructions. Usually, when a person dies, the funeral arrangements are made immediately. The will is typically not consulted until the process of settling the estate begins. If you leave funeral instructions in your will, it is possible that your family will not know about them until after the funeral. Medical directives or end-of-life care stipulations require a separate legal document.
To designate end-of-life care, create a living will.
To leave your funeral directions, you can write an informal document describing your wishes for your funeral arrangements. It does not need to be notarized or witnessed; it is just a document that your family can refer to when planning the funeral. You can also just talk to your family about your wishes. If you choose to make a document, be sure you give copies of it to the executor of your estate and other trusted family members.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in New York?
A will is a legally binding document, whether it is made online or not. However, you can change or revoke it at any point.
Here are the ways you can change or revoke an online will in New York:
- You can write a new will that states it revokes the old one, or you can write a document that states you are revoking your will (this document must be finalized with the same formalities as a will).
- You can physically destroy it with the intent of revoking it (by burning, tearing, shredding, or otherwise destroying it).
- You can order someone else to physically destroy it. However, in this case, it is only considered validly revoked if two witnesses can testify that the will was revoked in your presence and by your direction. The person who destroyed the will cannot also be one of the witnesses.
After any change in circumstance, whether in your family or in your financial situation, it is a good idea to revisit your will. Marriage or divorce, birth or adoption of a child, acquisition of significant assets, or relocation to another state or country are all times in which you should update your will. Usually, with any major life change, it is best to write a new will and revoke the old one. However, if you only have minor changes, you can instead add an amendment called a codicil. A codicil must be finalized in the same way that the original will is finalized.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in New York?
To finalize an online will in New York, take these steps:
- Print it out,
- Sign it at the end of the document in front of two witnesses,
- Have them sign it at the end of the document (and include their addresses) within 30 days of them either witnessing you sign it or hearing you acknowledge your signature.
To make your will “self-proved” in New York, your witnesses need to make sworn statements before a notary public, testifying to the authenticity of the will, the validity of its execution, and to your competence at the time of making the will. Attach these affidavits to your will.
Be sure to consider these special considerations in New York:
- Surviving spouses can file what is called “right of election” if they did not inherit assets that equal to the monetary amount of their elective share.
USLegalWills is our recommendation for an online last will and testament. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy. You can also create a Living Will. USLegalWills offers a free service to document funeral wishes and save final messages for loved ones.