Many people will hold off making a will because they don't feel like they need one or because they may feel overwhelmed by the process. If you are not familiar with law, which there are many people who are not, you may have questions in regards to making your will.
The first common question that people will ask is why they might even need a Last Will and Testament to begin with. If you die without a will you are considered "intestate". The state of New York has codified into the law specific divisions of your estate when you die without a will. This may not divide your assets according to your wishes. The state will divide you assets among your spouse and minor children. If none of these families members are surviving, then other members of your family may become entitled. If you do not have a will, the court may decide who will take care of your children if the other parent is no longer available as well. If you are in a non traditional, unmarried relationship, and do not have a will, your partner will not receive anything.
Another common question that an individual might have in relation to the creation of a will is if they even have to leave something to their spouse or children. New York State protects spouses and minor children from being left nothing in a will. A surviving spouse can legally claim part of your estate even if you will says otherwise. If you have children who are over the age of 18 years old, it is perfectly legal to not leave them anything.
If both parents were to die, then a guardian must be appointed for minor children. You and your spouse are able to leave in your will the person that you prefer to take care of your children.
There are several different ways to go about the creation of a will. Going to a lawyer is not the only method. You might have heard of online wills. This may leave someone with the question of whether or not they have to see a lawyer in order to create a will. Of course you do not have to go to a lawyer, but your will has to follow a certain prescribed formality. If it is not made up a certain way, then it may not have legal binding. This is why it is always best to go to a lawyer. This lawyer is an expert and can make sure you are properly legally protected.
Now that you are aware that a will is not always legally binding, you might wonder what does make a legal will. This written document is dated, signed by you in front of two witnesses. They do not have to know what your will consists of. They just have to know that it is your will and they saw you sign it. They must sign the bottom and place their addresses after their signatures.
It is important to keep your will in a safe place. It must also be somewhere accessible when it is needed. Members of your family or other people you trust must know where it is kept so that they can get it when it is needed. If you put your will is your Safe Deposit Box, it may take some time to open as banks sometimes seal the box upon notice of death.
In order to make sure that all the wishes in your will are carried out, it is suggested to name someone as an executor. It may be necessary to name someone as a second executor in case the first person you appointed is unable to. You will definitely want to pick someone that you trust to distribute your assets according to your wishes.
Some people are under the impression that they can just write down their wishes and have that be valid. This is not true. It is only under very limited circumstances that this may be valid. You will still need to follow the proper formality.
It is common that if you make your will that eventually years down the line you will want to change it. You will not want to make any changes to the will that you just signed. This may invalidate your will. You can change your will by adding a codicil which, itself, must be signed in the same manner as the will. Another option is to write a new will incorporating your changes in a new document. This is usually the preferred option.
Source: Law Help NY