Will Lawyers in Yonkers, NY

Helping Clients With Will Creation and Other Elder Law Issues

Having a will isn’t just for those who are rich or have lots of assets to pass down to family members. Creating a will ensures that you retain control over what happens with your estate, ensuring that your legacy is passed down as you wish. Every adult should have at least a basic will in place, but those who have minor children who will need a guardian or complex estates may need more legal guidance. Find out how to create a will, learn how to choose an executor for your estate, and discover why a will may be challenged when you work with an estate planning law firm.
At the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, we see the peace of mind and security our clients get by creating comprehensive estate plans starting with a will. Our NY lawyers can guide you through the process, whether that’s creating a will and estate plan or updating your existing will because of changes in your circumstances.

What Function Does a Will Serve in Estate Planning Law?

There are many estate planning documents that someone may have as part of their estate plan, but the last will and testament is arguably the most important because it forms the basis of the rest of the plan. The will identifies who should serve as executor of the state, names a legal guardian for any surviving minor children, and outlines the beneficiaries and how assets should be distributed. A will can also address unique situations, such as business succession planning in business law, to ensure that all aspects of a person’s life are accounted for.

What Are the Requirements for a Will in New York?

While creating a will isn’t a complex process, it does need to be done in accordance with the New York laws to ensure that it is valid and reduce the risks of it being challenged or thrown out during the probate process. To create a will, you must be at least 18 years old. The other main requirement for the creator is that they be of “sound mind.” This is the legal terminology to describe someone who is aware of what they’re doing and what the implications are. For example, seniors with dementia or other cognitive issues or individuals with certain mental disorders may not be able to create a will if they aren’t able to understand the implications.

The will itself must be in written form. It’s generally best if the will is typed out, but handwritten wills are allowed in some situations. However, keep in mind that these may be easier to dispute and could potentially cause issues during probate. A will must be signed by the creator and by two witnesses. Some states also require that the witnesses not be named as beneficiaries in the will, but New York doesn’t mandate this. However, it’s still best to choose witnesses who don’t have any vested interest in the estate to avoid any potential challenges later on.

What Should I Consider When Choosing an Executor?

Choosing an executor for your estate is a serious decision. This person will be in charge of ensuring that your estate is accurately assessed and settled and that the beneficiaries receive their inheritances. You may choose to name a family member or trusted friend, but you can also choose an estate administration professional or an entity, such as a law office. If you have a complex estate, it can be helpful to choose someone who has experience with the relevant legal issues or estate administration. For example, if your estate includes several properties, you may want to choose someone who has a background in real estate law to make the process easier.

Is There Any Way to Speed Up the Probate Process?

Probate can take months and even years to complete, depending on the estate and how complicated it is, but smaller estates may be able to bypass this process. Under New York law, an estate can qualify for voluntary administration proceedings if it doesn’t contain any real property, such as real estate, that the decedent was the sole owner of and is valued at less than $50,000 total. The voluntary administration proceeding is a faster process, which can be beneficial to both the executor and the beneficiaries. If you’re interested in whether this may be an option in your situation, speak with a probate attorney or a wills attorney.

How Often Should I Review My Will?

A will is only helpful if it reflects your current situation, so it’s important to update it regularly. In general, it’s a good idea to look over your will every couple of years to see if it needs any major changes. If there have been significant changes in your circumstances, such as a family law matter that could change your beneficiaries, it’s important to update your will with a wills lawyer right away. This is as simple as destroying the old will and creating a new, updated one. If you need to make any changes to the rest of your estate plan, seek the legal services and counsel of an attorney.

Keeping your will up to date can also make it less likely that it will be challenged by your beneficiaries or result in estate litigation or civil litigation in the Westchester County courts.
Working with wills attorneys ensures your will is accurate, up to date, and in line with the state requirements. Call the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, at 914-344-5145 to schedule an appointment with an attorney today.

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