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New York Last Will and Testament Template

Create your last will and testament forms easily from home and in under an hour with FindLaw’s guided process.

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New York last will options to suit your needs

Basic Will

A last will template that covers the essentials

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Template has limited personalization

What’s included:
  • A fillable template that meets basic needs
  • Compliant with your state’s laws

Last Will and Testament

For One Person

A do-it-yourself last will that’s easy to personalize.

$99
What’s included:
  • Step-by-step guided process
  • Attorney-approved document compliant with your state’s laws
  • A last will and testament that’s customized to your wishes
  • Free changes and revisions to your will for up to one full year after purchase

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Estate Planning Package

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All the forms you need to create a personal estate plan

$189
What’s included:
  • Last will and testament
  • Health care directive
  • Power of attorney
  • Free HIPAA release form
  • A comprehensive plan — for less
  • Free changes and revisions for up to one year after purchase

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Reliable New York last will and testament forms

If you die without a valid last will and testament (also simply called a “will”) in New York, your property will be distributed according to state intestacy laws. These laws are unlikely to suit your needs if you have a blended family, family strife, an unmarried partner, or other special circumstances.

You can avoid intestacy laws through a will. With a will, you can name guardians for minor children and pets. You can also make your own choices about how your property will be distributed to loved ones, friends and charitable organizations, decide at what age your beneficiaries can access their inheritance, and specify individuals you prefer not to include.

You can download a free last will and testament template for New York right here. Just click the PDF or Word button on this page to get your form.

Kimberly_Lekman_image

Written by:

Kimberly Lekman, Esq.

Contributing Author

Reviewed by:

John Devendorf, Esq.

Contributing Author

How It Works

It only takes minutes to control your future. Need help? Contact one of our directory attorneys.

Create an account

Create a secure account which is accessible through an easy dashboard you can access any time.

Gather information

You will need a list of your assets, contact information for important people, and any wishes you want to be honored when you’re gone.

Complete your documents

Answer all questions, then we’ll generate your digital documents for downloading, printing, and signing.

Make it legal

Carefully follow the instructions provided in the form, which may include signing your documents in front of witnesses or a notary.

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Plan for your future with confidence

This free guide will help you:

  • Learn the most common estate planning terms

  • Understand the essential estate planning tools

  • Gather critical information with an estate planning checklist

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What’s next to make my New York last will and testament valid?

If you want a will, you can hire a lawyer or use a will form from a reliable source. If you use a form, follow these steps:

Choose your executor

Your executor is the person who will oversee the administration of your estate and make sure that the terms of your will are carried out. They do this in a court-supervised process called probate. You should choose an executor you trust, who is able to perform these duties. Many people choose a close family member such as a sibling or spouse, for this role.

Choose your beneficiaries

Your beneficiaries are the people or entities who you would like to receive your property after you die. You may choose beneficiaries who are close family members such as a spouse or child. Or, you may wish to leave gifts to friends. Depending on your situation, you may choose to leave your assets to entities like charities or trusts. A trust is a useful financial instrument for providing for dependent children or special needs loved ones. With a trust, you can name a trustee who can manage your beneficiaries’ finances on their behalf. New York law even allows for special trusts called pet trusts. Pet trusts allow you to provide for the care of pets after your death. The trustee you name will manage the finances in the trust to pay for your beloved pets’ needs.

List your assets

To help your executor distribute your property, you should make a list of what you own. Make sure to include all types of property, including your personal property and real property. Real property refers to real estate like your home, vacation houses, investment properties, and land. Personal property covers all of your other possessions. Vehicles, furniture, jewelry, accounts, and more are all personal property. If you would like certain possessions to go to certain individuals, you should make this clear in your will.

List your non-probate assets

There are some assets that you cannot distribute through your will. They are known as non-probate assets. These include life insurance policies, annuities, trusts, and retirement accounts with named beneficiaries. Policies and accounts with named beneficiaries will pass automatically to the beneficiary upon your death. Further, if you own any property jointly, it will pass directly to the joint owners upon your death. You cannot change the designations on your non-probate assets through your will. But it will help your executor handle these assets if you provide a list.

List your debts

When your estate goes into probate, your creditors can make claims for payments on your debts out of your estate. To help your executor handle these payments, you should provide a comprehensive list. Some common personal debts include credit card debts, personal loans, mortgages, and tax obligations.

Sign your will

You (the “testator“) should sign or direct someone to sign for you at the very end of your will. You must sign or acknowledge your signature in the presence of at least two witnesses. You must declare to them that this is your last will and testament. If you need someone to sign the will for you, that person must write their name and address on the will. This person does not count as one of your witnesses. Your witnesses must sign your will within 30 days of having witnessed your signature or your acknowledgment of your signature. Their signatures should be at the end of the will, and they must include their residential addresses.

Distribute and store your will

After you have signed your will, you should give a copy to your executor and your attorney (if you have one). Make sure that your loved ones know about your will and store a copy in a secure place that a trusted person can access.

You may want to speak with a lawyer if you:

  • Have a past divorce, blended family, or other complex family situation
  • Have a high-value estate
  • Own a business
  • Want to create a special needs trust
  • Want legal review of your completed will
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Create my will

Commonly asked New York last will and testament questions

Under New York law, there are some strict requirements about signatures and witnesses for wills. To ensure that your will is a valid legal document, you should follow these requirements carefully:

  • Age and capacity: You must be 18 years old or older and of sound mind and memory when you sign your will.
  • Writing: Except for very rare situations where the testator is at war or at sea, a New York will must be in writing.
  • Signature: You should sign your will at the end of the document or direct someone to sign it for you. If someone signs the will for you, that person must sign their own name and write their complete address on the will. This person does not count as one of the witnesses.
  • Witnesses: There must be at least two witnesses to your will. You must declare that the will is yours and sign the will in front of them or acknowledge your signature in their presence. You may sign or acknowledge your will to the witnesses either separately or together. Within a 30-day period of witnessing your signature or acknowledgment, both witnesses must sign at the end of your will. In addition to signing, they must also write their residential addresses.

No, a last will and testament (a “will”) is for the distribution of your assets after your death and to name guardians for your minor children. This allows you to avoid the state’s default rules on property distribution and make your own choices to distribute your assets as you see fit. Further, it enables you to name caretakers for your children just in case anything happened to you while they were still minors.

living will is a legal document that you use to specify your medical care preferences and end-of-life treatment choices. In New York, you can name a health care proxy to make your medical choices for you if you become incapacitated.

Health care proxies and living wills are not substitutes for a will. They do not distribute your property after your death, and they are only valid during your lifetime. If you would like to plan for the distribution of your assets after your death, a valid will is the type of document you need.

Yes, a New York will is valid without being notarized. But it’s a good idea to ask your witnesses to swear to a self-proving affidavit. This will require a notary public’s services.

self-proving will contains proof of its own validity. This means that your witnesses may not have to testify that your will is authentic in front of a probate court. Instead, the court can automatically accept that the will is yours.

To make your will self-proving under New York law, you and your witnesses need to swear to an affidavit in front of a notary public. The self-proving affidavit will establish that you and your witnesses know that you are signing your will and that it is really your signature. By taking this extra step, you can potentially save time and legal fees for your beneficiaries down the line.

Unwitnessed, handwritten wills (holographic wills) and oral wills (nuncupative wills) can be valid in New York under rare circumstances. However, they are not advisable.

A nuncupative will is spoken and unwritten. So, New York law requires that two witnesses must have been present to hear the testator declare their will.

A fully handwritten, unwitnessed will is called a holographic will. Because a holographic will does not have witness signatures, it must be entirely handwritten. Both holographic wills and nuncupative wills must also follow other strict requirements under New York law.

New York law lists several other formal requirements for handwritten and oral wills. For both, the testator must have been a member of the armed forces at war, in armed conflict, or at sea. If they were not a member of the armed forces, they must have been accompanying the armed forces when they made the will. Further, the law provides time limits on the validity of these types of wills.

To relieve your loved ones from the legal hassles and delays that can result from a handwritten or oral will, you should sign a printed will in front of two witnesses instead. FindLaw can help you create a will with our easy step-by-step process. Best of all, you don’t even have to leave home to get your New York will.

You can change your will by creating a new will or writing an amendment (a “codicil“) to the will. Whether you write a codicil or a new will, you should sign it in front of two witnesses just as you did with your original will. A codicil is sufficient for making minor changes to a will.

Under New York law, you can completely revoke your will in the following ways:

  • Write a new will. The new will should state that it revokes all prior wills.
  • Create a new writing that declares your intention to revoke your will. This writing must be signed and witnessed with the same formalities as the original New York will.
  • Burn, tear, cancel, cut, or otherwise physically destroy your will with the intention to revoke.
  • Direct someone else to physically destroy your will for you. This should occur in the presence of two additional witnesses.

Whenever you create a new will or codicil, you should inform your loved ones and give a copy to your executor. This will help to assure that the probate court follows your most up-to-date wishes.

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