In addition to signing your will as a mentally competent adult, you must also sign your will without any other legal defects. In other words, you must sign your will without any duress, fraud or undue influence. No one else can pressure you to sign your will, and you must sign it freely and without any confusion that the document you are signing is in fact your will. If someone threatens you physically or verbally into signing your will, your will may be invalid.
Your will must be in writing. In very limited circumstances, the New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law or “EPTL,” allows testators to create oral or handwritten wills. An oral or nuncupative will is a will made in front of two witnesses while you were a member of the armed services at war, armed conflict or while a mariner at sea. A holographic will is one you completely hand-write, with or without any witnesses. A handwritten will is also only valid in limited situations, and only if you were at war as an armed services member, armed conflict or while you were a mariner at sea. There is a limited exception to creating a holographic will or nuncupative will if you were not an armed services member but accompanied one during war or armed conflict. Because of the strict limitations, we recommend drafting a written will that complies with the New York EPTL’s testamentary formalities.
Check out our blog tomorrow to read Part 3 of What are the Necessary Ingredients of a Valid Will.