In New York, oral wills (also known as “nuncupative wills”) and handwritten wills (also known as “holographic wills”) may be considered valid under certain circumstances.
Oral wills are only valid if they are made by a member of the military while they are on active duty and in a theater of war.
Handwritten wills are only valid if they are entirely in the handwriting of the person making the will (the “testator”), are dated, and are signed by the testator. Handwritten wills must also be witnessed by at least two people.
It is generally advisable to create a formal, written will that is signed and witnessed in order to ensure that it is valid and will be enforced by the court. This is because it can be difficult to prove the authenticity and validity of oral or handwritten wills.
To make changes to a will, a document called a codicil can be created and added to the original will. A codicil must be signed in the same way as the original will in order to be valid.
A will contest, also known as a “will challenge,” is a legal action in which the validity of a will is challenged. An objectant is a person who challenges the validity of a will. This can be done for a variety of reasons, such as the belief that the will was not properly executed or that the person who made the will was not of sound mind when it was created.
To contest a will, an objectant must typically file a lawsuit in probate court, which is the court that handles matters related to wills and estates. The objectant must present evidence to support their claim that the will is invalid. If the court determines that the will is invalid, it may be set aside and an earlier will or the laws of intestate succession will be used to determine how the deceased person’s assets should be distributed.