Sometimes a New York City legal will is required, even though current circumstances make creating such a will impossible. When this happens, a privileged will comes into effect. Throughout history, there have been examples of privileged wills being used to divide the assets of someone who was killed during military action, while exploring the wilderness, or while at sea. In order for a privileged will to be considered a New York City legal will and therefore a legally binding document, the exact circumstances surround the death of the individual in question need to be considered.
In many cases a handwritten privileged will, often the very last thing that the person does when they realize that they’re about to die is considered a legal will. Handwritten wills are very common in military personnel who were fatally injured during a battle and who had not had an opportunity to seek legal counsel beforehand. In addition to being handwritten, this type of privileged document is often unwitnessed. In this technological age, it’s possible that a day will come when a probate court has to decide whether or not a statement typed on a cell phone in the last moments of a person’s life should be considered a privileged will.
There have been cases of individuals who never made it back from a sailing adventure who were able to create a privileged will which was declared legal by a probate court. In nearly all of these cases, the individual was able to create some sort of written statement that was recorded when the wreckage was salvaged.
Just because someone was tragically and unexpectedly killed right after they wrote a privileged will, it doesn’t mean the New York City probate court will recognize it as a legal will. There are many factors that have to considered first, including:
- The likely mental state of the individual at the time they penned the statement
- Whether or not the individual had drafted a formal will, and if they had, how much the two wills differ from one another
- If anyone who didn’t benefit from the privileged will saw it get written
- The circumstances that led to the discovery of the privileged will
- The circumstances surrounding the individual’s death.
Many families have been ripped asunder after a loved one passed, leaving behind a startling privileged will. The more the will differs from how the family expected the assets to be divided up, or from a previously drafted will, the greater the odds that the entire matter will wind up in probate court. No matter which side of the argument you’re on, you will need to have a good New York City probate lawyer in your corner.
It’s important to remember that just because a will was privileged it doesn’t mean that the document and inheritance aren’t still subject to the same laws traditional New York City legal wills are. Before the assets can be passed onto the beneficiaries, inheritance taxes have to be paid and outstanding debts resolved.
For assistance navigating the process of creating a legal will in New York, contact Pulvers-Thompson today.