Real estate, bank accounts, stocks, bonds and collectibles are examples of the wide array of property which we accumulate as we go through life. A will is little more than a formalized set of written instructions as to what is to be done with our possessions after we die. The law wants to see property distributed in the way its owner wished and will accommodate those wishes whenever possible.

A will is valid anywhere in the world if it was properly drawn and executed in the place where it was made. For this reason,even though a handwritten will may sometimes be acceptable if made under extraordinary circumstances (trapped at the top of a stalled Ferris Wheel, or in the midst of white water rapids for example), it is best to have your will prepared by an attorney so it will cofirm to the requirements of your home state.

A will is generally witnessed by at least two persons.In New York, most lawyers will have your witnesses also sign a “living” or “self-executing” affidavit so it is not necessary to locate (and sometimes pay) the witnesses when it is time to file the will for probate.Things can get complicated when witnesses die or disappear.

It is a good idea for you to have your lawyer review your will every few years. Important changes in your life and important changes in the tax laws are two good reasons for periodic review of your will. Also, should you move to another state, your will should be reviewed by an attorney there and should probably be redrawn, even if it is copied verbatim.That will insure that the will conforms to the form required by your new home state so that there will be minimal delay in admitting it to probate.