Free New York Last Will and Testament Form

A will is a legal instrument that contains the instructions of an individual (testator) related to their estate in the event of death, written in the form prescribed by law.

Creating a last will and testament is often a recommended option for everyone who wants to steer clear of disputes and confusion. Even if you haven’t got a lot of assets, a last will may help your family situation and turn out to be fundamental to your loved ones after your passing.

In case you are in search of a fillable and printable New York last will and testament form, you will find one on this site, along with the guidelines on will writing and solutions to common questions.


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New York Last Will Laws and Requirements

Requirements State laws
Statutes Estates, Powers & Trusts; Article 3 – Substantive Law of Wills
Signing requirement Two witnesses § 3-2.1 Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements
Age of testator 18 or older § 3-1.1 Who may make wills of, and exercise testamentary powers of
Age of witnesses 18 or older § 3-2.1 Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements
Self-proving wills Allowed Section 1406. Proof of will by affidavit of attesting witness out of court 1
Handwritten wills Recognized if meeting certain conditions § 3-2.1 Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements
Oral wills Recognized if meeting certain conditions § 3-2.2 Nuncupative and holographic wills
Holographic wills Recognized if meeting certain conditions

How to Prepare a New York Last Will

  1. Think about your options. Before getting started, you’ll want to determine if you’d like to use the assistance of an attorney or write the whole document on your own. In the event that you would like to make the last will and testament yourself, pick the type you’ll go for: a handwritten will or perhaps a free last will and testament form.
  2. Indicate your information. Add your full name and address (the city, county, and state of residence) to establish the testator of the will. Review the details you entered and the remainder of the passage, including “Expenses and Taxes.”
    Section for specifying details of New York will and testament
  3. Specify the executor (or executrix). Appoint the executor of your estate and indicate their particulars: full name and place of residence, which should usually be in the same state the testator lives because almost all states enforce special policies on out-of-state executors. Although not mandatory, it might be wise to choose an additional person to perform the duty of your executor in the event the first one is unwilling or incapable of carrying out your last will and testament.
    Executor choosing section of a last will template for New York
  4. Appoint the guardian (optional). In the event you’ve got underage or dependent children and don’t wish the court to pick a guardian for the kids when you’re no longer on this Earth, it is possible to appoint someone you know as a guardian for your children.
    Appointing the guardian part of New York last will
  5. Indicate your beneficiaries. Now specify those people to whom you bequeath your property, that is, your beneficiaries. For each inheritor, enter the next particulars: full name, address, and the way they are related to you.
  6. Allocate possessions. You can define which of the inheritors receives this or that piece of property. Otherwise, the assets will be divided equally amongst the listed beneficiaries. Assets can include money for outstanding arrears, real estate, stocks, company ownership, cash, and any tangible things of financial worth you possess. However, shared and living will property, along with your life insurance, cannot be put into your will.
    Beneficiaries specification and assets allocation part of a New York last will document
  7. Ask witnesses to sign the document. According to the New York law, for a last will to be considered legitimate, it must be signed by two witnesses. Only somebody who isn’t your named beneficiary and is of 18 years or more could be chosen as a witness. Think about selecting witnesses who are younger than you to ensure they’ll be around in the event the will is contested in the court or if some other problem arises. At this point, you (as well as your two witnesses) have to sign the will after filling in your full legal addresses and names. Remember to check every paragraph carefully before finalizing the matter.
    Witnesses signing section of a template of last will for New York

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main difference between 'Power of Attorney' and 'Executor'?

A power of attorney (PoA) is a legal document that establishes a person, known as your agent or proxy (does not have to be an attorney), to manage matters for you when you are alive.

Among many power of attorney types, the two following ones are viewed as primary:

  • General power of attorney – enables you to appoint a proxy (agent) who will have the ability to take care of your financial and legal matters in your stead. However, this document becomes void in case the PoA author passes away or becomes incapacitated.
  • Durable power of attorney – grants the identical rights to the proxy as the prior type but stays valid even if the person on behalf of whom the agent acts becomes incapacitated.

A last will executor, on the other hand, is your trustworthy representative in charge of carrying out the conditions from your last will and testament. You may assign one person to act as an attorney-in-fact and will executor.

Is will notarization required by New York law?

A last will and testament in New York is effective without a notary certification. However, if you want to add a self-proving affidavit to the last will, you’ll have to attest it. Making your will self-proving could be a great idea since it expedites the probate and grants one more level of certainty in the event the will’s legitimacy is doubted.

IMPORTANT: Even though notarization is not required for last wills in New York, signing a will in front of a notary public usually helps facilitate the probate.

Should you go for an attested or holographic last will?

For any holographic last will to be legally binding, you have to handwrite the entire document, put the date of creating, and put your signature on it. These last wills tend to be typically used in emergencies and/or until more conventional documents could be put in place (whether by legal counsel or with a last will template like the one you can obtain from this site). It isn’t recommended to keep a holographic last will as your final version as it could include ambiguous or inconsistent statements, resulting in a large stalling in the probate.

An attested last will is generally typed because it is often prepared by a legal professional or is based on a last will template, like the one you may download from us. To be viewed as valid, it has to be signed by the testator and two credible witnesses older than 18 in the testator’s presence, which can also be done in the presence of a notary public. But, the latter isn’t required in New York.

Exactly what does it imply to be testamentary capable?

In order to make your last will and change it (to be testamentary capable), you must meet certain requirements with regards to your legal and mental capabilities (sound mind) first.

In most states, to write a will, you have to be of sound mind and at least 18 years old. “Sound mind” means you do not have any psychiatric disorders (dementia, senility, insanity, etc.) that prevent you from realizing fully the aftermaths of your doings.

Do I have to attach a self-proving affidavit to my last will in New York?

No, in New York, there isn’t such a requirement. However, including one could be rather useful given that it removes the demand for witnesses testimony at the time of probate, which speeds up the process substantially.

Is it possible to disinherit your child or spouse?

New York is not a community property state (also known as marital property). That’s a kind of interest documentation presented by the laws that says that half of all properties and assets (and this includes debts) of one marriage partner is owned by another and continues to be such on divorce. You can leave your spouse out of the will, but New York law implies that your spouse is entitled to a certain minimum amount of your property. 2018 study shows that in the State of New York, the divorce rate is 5.7 per 1,000 women over 15 years old, in comparison to the average US rate of 7.7.

Apart from your spouse, New York law permits you to disinherit other members of the family. That applies to your adult children and other family members; just include disinheritance paragraphs to the last will.

Is someone allowed to modify my last will and testament?

No, the will can be amended only by you. There’s one particular situation when a 3rd party can intervene. When you’re physically incapable of signing your will, a 3rd party is allowed to do so instead of you yet only with you present.

Can a signed, typewritten last will be altered in New York?

Yes, this can be done.

In New York, in case you haven’t entered into an agreement that indicates the opposite, you’re allowed to annul or change your will whenever you want.

It’d also be wise to review your last will and testament in such cases:

  • Adoption or child birth
  • You got married or divorced
  • You bought or sold real estate or a large piece of property
  • Your financial position has changed fundamentally

What will happen if I lose my last will?

New York law indicates that a last will can be recognized in case it’s lost or damaged. However, nothing but the initial version of the last will and testament can be admitted by the probate court. Following New York law, the will’s absence may be assumed as its revocation. This suggests that the trustee will need to prove the last will’s validity, which can be found to be somewhat troublesome.

For a holographic will, you may require sworn witnesses and testimony to prove. This will make the situation more complicated. Furthermore, you will also have to provide proof of the actual reason why the last will and its elements cannot be delivered in ways that will also ensure it was not annulled.

How does a physically disabled individual sign the will?

As per the New York Estate Code, it will be possible for someone to sign their last will providing it is your (as a testator) instruction and in your presence. The testator can communicate his or her last wishes orally, by responding positively to a query, or by gestures.

It is possible to have a notary public to sign the name of a testator who is physically incapable of doing so in case the latter directs the notary public in the presence of a witness. It is essential to mention that these witnesses can’t have an interest (equitable or legal) in any of the properties and assets that are the concern of or influenced by this type of a document (the will).

Related documents When to create one
Codicil You need to make one or several minor adjustments to your last will.
Self-proving affidavit You would like to save time and legal fees for your will’s witnesses.
Living will You want to state precisely what medical care you prefer if you cannot communicate that by yourself.
Living trust You want to skip probate by putting your property in the possession of a trust.
Published: Sep 17, 2020
Mara Erlach
Mara Erlach
Writer & Attorney
Mara has been practicing estate planning and trust law in California since 2003, taking pride in helping clients of all backgrounds and asset profiles form a complete and customized estate plan. Her specialties are: estate planning, wills and trusts, trust and probate administration.