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Can a foreign will be probated in a New York state court?

We begin our latest post with the hopes that all of our readers had a wonderful holiday season. Most people began 2017 by making resolutions. However, few may make promises to create (or update) their estate plan. Invariably some of our loved ones live abroad, so this post will focus on foreign wills and whether they can be enforceable under New York state law.  

If a U.S. citizen or a foreign national passes away and has a foreign will, there is a chance that a New York State probate court may be able to validate it. This topic is important because we receive questions about these types of wills since many people may be included as a beneficiary (i.e. a person who stands to receive property and/or assets).  Because of this, it is important to know about how about validating a foreign will.  

Generally speaking, a foreign will can be validated under New York law if it follows the basic requirements for wills. This means that with the will must show that the testator (the person making the will) must have had testamentary capacity (i.e. the mental capacity to create a will). The document must be signed with the requisite testamentary intent. This means that the person making the will must have specifically intended to have the document be his or her last and final will that overrides any previous wills or codicils.

Finally, the will must be signed free of duress or undue influence, and must be witnessed by the proper number of people.  

Indeed, it is possible that a New York state probate court could recognize a foreign will if it is written in a different language. As such, if you have questions about recognizing foreign wills, an experienced estate planning lawyer can help. 

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