A will is a document informing the executor of an estate on how to proceed with closing out the decedent's estate. To put it more simply, a will is a document letting the public know how the decedent wanted all of their property to be handled.
Understanding The Relationship Of A Will & An Estate
To start, it is best to get a will drafted by a New York Estate Planning Lawyer. Estate and Probate attorneys understanding the language of probate and know how all of the different clauses in a will affect the beneficiaries. A will should be filed with Surrogate's Court. Surrogate's Court is the court in which all probate proceedings are held. The will (especially if drafted by an attorney) will designate who the executor should be.
A term you will hear often is what is called testate. The way it is used is as follows: "Mary died testate". What that essentially means is she died with a will in place. The will has to undergo a process called probate which just means that the court examines the validity of the will to ensure the decedent did in fact want the noted beneficiaries to be provided with the assets he/she discusses in the will. The court also assists in supervising the administration of all assets under the will. Bear in mind it is highly advisable you contact a New York Estate Planning Lawyer with any questions you may have as far as probating a will is concerned. Lawyers who specialize in estate planning and probate spend A LOT of time in Surrogate's Court and usually learn how the entire process works through experience, their CLE courses (continuing education courses), Law School, and from communicating with the law clerks at Surrogate's Court.
The validity of a will is what can make or break a case. Without a valid will, all of the directives in the decedents will will not be upheld and the court may ultimately decide who gets what. In most states, the person writing the will must be 18 years old and of sound mental capacity.Tthe will has to be drafted, signed by the decedent, and have witnesses attesting to the creation of the will. Bear in mind other factors can be revealed which will invalidate the will. For example, if the testator was persuaded to create the will without them being aware of the consequences is what's called undue influence. To paint this situation better, imagine an elderly man is convinced by his caretaker to make a will making the caretaker his beneficiary. This can certainly be a situation where no issues would arise but I have seen scenarios where family members contested the will stating the elderly individual was unaware of what he was signing. Wills are often contested with this argument. Other times in which a will is struck down is when it is revealed to be a forgery. Quick Tip: When you create a will, make sure each page in the will requires your signature. I have seen situations where only the last page contained the signatures and all other pages were forgery.
Again, it is highly recommend you seek out a New York Estate Planning Lawyer when your looking to form a will. Avvo.com is a great source to find an attorney. Always do your due diligence and always get a second opinion on your legal matters. Finally, the most important piece of information you should take away from all of this is pre-planning. Get your will drafted before it is too late.