3 Things to Consider about Handwritten Wills in New York

Following his passing on January 23, 2021, Larry King’s widow remains locked in a dispute with the late celebrity’s son concerning the distribution of King’s assets. While estate battles are often challenging, this case is particularly complex for several reasons. One, a divorce was pending between Larry King and his widow. Additionally, King’s widow alleges that she recently discovered the late celebrity had a “secret” bank through which he gave over $266,000 to his son.


On February 10th, Larry King’s son filed an ex parte application to become the special administrator of his father’s estate. In support of his argument, King’s son submitted a holographic will that’s dated two months after King filed for divorce in 2019. King’s more formal will, however, names his widow as executor of his estate. King’s widow also argues that the late celebrity didn’t act like he wanted a divorce and that the couple had gone to counseling.


Much consideration has been given to Larry King’s holographic will. The one-page document is dated October 17, 2019, and states that Larry wants 100 percent of his funds to be divided equally among his five children and that the will should replace all previous writings. King’s widow argues that even if this document is found to be valid, it will change little. King’s widow also argues that during the last few years of his life, King was highly susceptible to outside influences, and at the time he executed the holographic will was of questionable mental capacity. As a result, King’s widow requests the court to reject Larry King’s son’s petition to be appointed special administrator and to deny admission of the holographic will. 


# 1 – Handwritten Wills in New York Are Valid in a Few Limited Situations



New York acknowledges handwritten wills in only limited circumstances. Not only must handwritten wills must be made by individuals who are either members of the armed forces or mariners while at sea, a person who signs a holographic will is also required to have the testamentary capacity under the satisfaction of New York law.


# 2 – Handwritten Wills in New York Become Invalid


One of the most overlooked aspects of handwritten wills is that they become invalid after the occurrence of certain events. As a result, if a holographic will is made by a member of the armed forces, the will becomes invalid on the expiration of one year following that individual’s discharge from the armed forces. In situations where a holographic will is made by an individual who is serving with or accompanying an armed force in actual service, the will becomes invalid after the expiration of one year from the time that person cases serving with the armed forces. 


# 3 – New York Law Treats Wills Handwritten in Other States as Valid


A handwritten foreign will from another state can be considered valid under New York law provided that the will executed in full compliance with the laws of the other states. Consequently, a handwritten will that is executed validly under Pennsylvania law could be admitted to probate in New York.


Speak with a Compassionate Estate Planning Attorney


Estate planning disputes can be overwhelming, but a compassionate attorney can help you navigate this process. Do not hesitate to contact a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer at Ettinger Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation.

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