Estate planning attorneys commonly get asked questions about any number of topics. One of these topics involves wills and what people can do to give away their property after they die.
Some people, for example, have elderly relatives who make verbal statements shortly before they die. These statements can sometimes detail the elderly person’s wishes about who should receive property.
In general, these types of verbal statements are not enough to legally distribute property in the state of New York. Some states allow people to make verbal wills, and though the state of New York is one of them, you can only make a verbal will, also called an oral will or a nuncapative will, under very limited circumstances. Unless you are actively serving in the Armed Forces or are a mariner at sea, you cannot use verbal statements to pass property after you die in New York.
Regardless of what a person says on his or her deathbed, you can only make a verbal will under those limited circumstances. It doesn’t matter if, for example, you’ve already made a previous will and want to change some of its terms. In order to change the terms of a will you must create either a new will or a codicil, both of which must be made in writing.
In short, if you want to direct who inherits your property after your death, you need to create a will. With the assistance of an estate planning attorney, wills are not difficult to make, and once you make one you will be glad you did.