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What is a will?

Under the New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL), a will is a written document (in rare cases, a will may be oral) that takes effect when you die, and in which you direct:

  • How your property and assets (also called your "estate") should or should not be distributed (meaning you can exclude people or property, as well as include them) and who will distribute them (this person is called your "executor");
  • How outstanding bills/taxes should be paid;
  • Who should care for your minor children if you have any; and
  • What should happen to your body or specific body parts.

Your will can also include trusts that you have set up to become active after you die.

What property can I dispose of in my will?

Are there limitations on what property I can distribute?

Yes, there are a number of circumstances that limit your right to distribute certain property you own. Three primary circumstances:

  • You cannot disinherit your spouse:
  • Jointly owned property does not pass by will:
  • Reserved household items
  • Accounts for which you have named a specific beneficiary:

Do I really need a will?

How will New York distribute my estate if I don't have a will?

Who may make a will?

What does it mean to be "of sound mind and memory"?

To whom can I leave all or part of my estate?

I need help directing my estate by will:

Can I change or revoke my will?

How do I modify a will?

How do I revoke a will?

I need help with a will modification or revocation question:

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