Experienced New York Wills Lawyer Addresses Your Concerns
Clear, concise drafting captures your intentions
Every person should have a will. You may not be a Rockefeller, but you’ve worked hard to acquire your assets, and you should have final say about how they are distributed. Your will is also your opportunity to communicate for the last time with your loved ones, making a lasting statement of your affection. The Cormac McEnery Law Firm works with a range of clients whose concerns vary. High-net worth clients are concerned with bequests to families and philanthropic donations. Clients with modest holdings tend to focus on directing personal items with special significance towards the appropriate relatives. Whatever your concerns, Mr. McEnery listens intently and drafts a will to implement your intentions precisely.
What is required for a will to be valid in New York? And what facts might invalidate it?
To execute a valid will, you have to adhere to very few formalities. The will must be:
- Written — Oral wills are not valid, and although electronically stored information (ESI) is the wave of the future, New York still insists on hard copies.
- Signed — The testator must sign at the bottom.
- Witnessed — A disinterested person must witness the signing and sign the document after the testator. Courts have ruled that to qualify as a witness, a person who is aware of the significance of what is being done must have an uninterrupted line of sight to the signing.
These minimal requirements create a presumption that the will is valid. However, a disgruntled beneficiary may still search for a basis to challenge it. Our firm drafts wills meticulously to stand up to court scrutiny. But even a perfectly executed will might not be sufficient to address your estate planning needs. We help our clients understand and avoid any potential pitfalls of will planning.
What happens if a New Yorker dies without a will?
When someone dies without a will, the estate is settled in probate court according to New York’s intestate succession laws. Property flows to the decedent’s close relatives as follows:
- Spouse, but no living offspring — Spouse inherits everything.
- Spouse and living offspring — Spouse inherits the first $50,000 of intestate property and one-half of the balance. Children divide half of the balance equally.
- Living offspring, but no spouse — Children divide everything equally.
- Parents, but no spouse or offspring — Parents inherit everything.
- Siblings, but no spouse, offspring or parents — Siblings divide everything equally.
It’s important to understand that not all assets are intestate property. Items held jointly, such as real estate or checking accounts, pass to the joint owner without any court action. To understand how succession might operate in your case, it’s important to speak to a probate attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer can explain how estate planning allows you, rather than the laws of the state, to determine who shares in your legacy.
Contact an experienced elder law and estate planning attorney in Brooklyn Heights and Manhattan
Every person should have an estate plan crafted to their individual needs. At the Cormac McEnery Law Firm, we provide high-quality, highly-personal legal services for clients of all ages, with particular care for seniors who may need urgent attention. To schedule a free consultation at one of our convenient offices, call 888.368.4329 or contact us online.