It is common to see news stories of people in dispute over an estate in New York. In some instances, it will be due to the decedent dying intestate and not having a will at all. In others, it is because the estate planning and probate did not yield what many heirs and prospective heirs expected to receive. To avoid any rancor and confusion, drafting an estate plan should adhere to the law. Knowing the basic requirements to creating a will and how it can be created is a key factor in its validity and effectiveness.

When creating a will, there are certain requirements that must be in place for the testator. He or she must be at least 18-years-old and be of sound mind and memory. Sound mind refers to the person understanding what they are doing when they create the document. When the document is completed, the testator must sign it or acknowledge it with two witnesses there to attest to its validity. Should the testator request that the witnesses sign it, they must do so and write their addresses.

When the will is nuncupative (oral), it will only be valid if it was made by a person who is in the armed forces and in service while there is a war or armed conflict in progress, a person who is accompanying the armed forces during this time, or a mariner who is at sea. A holographic will is handwritten. This will only be valid should it be written by a member of the armed forces while an armed conflict is in progress. The handwriting must be of the testator.

Putting estate planning on the backburner is a mistake that many people will make. That applies to people young and old, healthy and not. Regardless of the individual situation and the assets that are at stake, it is always a smart idea to have a valid will and be prepared for every eventuality. Knowing how to create a legal document is the first step. A law firm that understands estate planning and probate and creating a valid will can help and should be called for advice in the matter.