Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is also called a Will. A Will is a written statement of what a person wants done with their property after they die.

A Will can have directions for how property should be divided and names an Executor to carry out those wishes. Wills can also appoint a guardian for their children.

The Will should be kept in a safe place where it will be easy to get to if it is needed. If a lawyer prepared the Will for you, you may want to discuss with the lawyer where to keep the original Will. In some counties, the Surrogate's Court has a vault where Wills are stored for safekeeping until the person dies.

The Will must be filed in Surrogate's Court and admitted for probate before the wishes of the person who died can be followed. If the person who died had less than $50,000 of personal property, then a small estate (also called a voluntary administration) can be filed instead.

Wills are a confidential document until the person dies. Once the Will is admitted to probate or a small estate, it becomes a public document that anyone can see and read.

IMPORTANT: Don't remove the staples from the Will when making copies. Doing anything to the Will can be a reason to invalidate it. If the staples were removed, you must tell the Court in a signed and notarized affidavit why they were removed, where it has been kept since it was executed, and that you believe no substitutions or changes have been made since its execution.

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