Estate planning is an important aspect of being fully prepared for the future. New Yorkers who have yet to create a will and other estate planning documents should be aware of the steps necessary to ensure that the document is valid. Failure to follow these requirements could cause issues, so it is important to know and address them when making the will.

There are basics about crafting a will. A person who writes a will – the testator – must generally be 18 or older except in cases in which it is a minor who has been emancipated. The person must comprehend what he or she is doing when creating the will. This means having testamentary capacity by being of sound mind and grasping what it means to leave property to heirs in a will. The will must be signed and witnessed. There must be a minimum of two witnesses who do not have a stake in the will and its terms.

Failure to follow the requirements for creating a will can render it invalid. If the will is declared invalid, the property distribution will be based on the law if there was no will at all, also known as dying intestate. The closest relatives will get the property regardless of what the will states. If a new will is meant to replace an older one, it must also follow these rules. If the new will is deemed invalid, then the prior will might be used.

To have a valid will and prevent problems from arising, it is wise to understand all the legal requirements and follow them. With wills and any other estate planning documents, discussing the case with legal professionals experienced in these matters may be helpful. Calling for a consultation can provide guidance and advice.