So you are sitting on your sofa thinking about life and all you have achieved and just like that it hits you-I have some assets that I would like to distribute to my family if something happens to me. The next thought that will likely cross your mind is: I should probably set up a will.
While the most effective way to distribute your assets exactly as you would wish is to get a will written up by an attorney; Courts in New York State have probated Holographic Wills–a will that was handwritten by the decedent.
In New York, precedent suggests that for a will to qualify for probate (to be valid), it must have been: (1) published by the decedent; (2) in presence of two witnesses. See In Re Pulvermacher’s Will, 305 N.Y.378 (1953). “Publication” means that the Testator has knowledge of testamentary character of instrument, and shares such knowledge with witnesses. Put simply, there needs to be a meeting of the minds between the testator (the person writing the will), and the attesting witnesses (the person who has agreed to witness the will), that the instrument (the ratty old napkin that you have decided to make your will on) they are being asked to sign as witnesses is testamenatory in character (basically that they knew they were signing a will). Estates Powers and Truste Law, Section 3-2.1(a)(3); see also In Re Estate of Pilon, 9 A.D.3d 771 (App. Div. 3d Dep’t 2004). And that is it!