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What are the requirements of a valid will?

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New York has a very specific statute that outlines exactly how a will needs to be executed in order for it to be a valid will in the state of New York. One requirement is that is has to be type written, with very few exceptions, a verbal will or a handwritten will, will not be accepted by the courts. Those exceptions are very specific to armed forces during times of conflict and mariners who are at sea. Those exceptions also have an expiration date where that will is only good for a certain amount of time. So if we’re talking about a standard client executing a will with an estate planning attorney, then it should be type written, the testator or the individual who is signing their will should sign at the end of the document and it should be witnessed by two disinterested witnesses. It cannot be witnessed by anyone in the family or anyone who is mentioned in the will. Essentially anyone who has something to gain by the document should not be a witness to it.

The testator should also declare to the witnesses that they are signing a last will and testament so that everyone, essentially everyone in the room needs to know what is being signed.

The testator should also have capacity. Capacity meaning that they know what they are signing, that they understand how the assets are going to be distributed after their death, that they know what their assets are, what type of property they own and a general idea of the value of those assets.

The testator should also know what is called a natural bounty of them, meaning who their heirs are, who their children, grandchildren and issue are, in order to have a will properly executed in New York

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