Attorney Barbara Katsos practices with The Law Offices of Barbara Katsos in New York, NY. In her work there, Dr. Katsos focuses on estate planning, wills, and real estate law.
When a person passes away without a will in New York, his or her estate is distributed based on intestacy laws. This means that the closest relatives, such as a spouse or children, will receive property first. If the deceased had neither, his or her property will go to the next most closely related relative available. If the court cannot find a living relative, the state receives the estate.
Many people prefer to create wills so they can control where their property goes. New York law allows residents to make their own will without the aid of a lawyer, but it is advisable to seek legal assistance, especially if the situation is complicated or if the will is likely to be contested.
To make a valid will in New York, the document must be signed in front of two witnesses. These witnesses must also sign the will. Getting this document notarized is not required, but it can greatly speed up the probate process if the will’s owner and witnesses sign an affidavit with a notary.