If a Will was drafted but never signed, how would it hold up in court?

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If a Will was drafted but never signed, how would it hold up in court?

We took personal care of our elderly neighbor for 5+ years and helped many years before that. She had distanced herself from her in-law family (no blood relatives alive). She had a Will drafted leaving us money and home to our other neighbors who cared for her but was only signed by other neighbor, not her. Would it hold up in court as her intentions? She listed us on her DNR and we were the immediate contact at hospitals and rehab centers she stayed in as we took her there. My husband was also her Health Proxy. Will it automatically go to in-laws or city?

Asked on March 5, 2011 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There are certain statutory requirements that need to be met in order for a Will to be valid.  And having a legal signature is one of them.  Specifically, in NY, a Will must be signed by either the testator (the person making the Will), or in the testator's name by another person but in the testator's presence and by the testator's direction. Additionally, any person who signs the testator's name to a Will shall sign their own name and affix their residence address to the Will (but it shall not be counted as 1 of the necessary attesting witnesses to the Will). 

Without more facts as surrounding the neighbor's signature, it's hard to say whether or not the the signature is statutorily sufficient.  Additionally, even if it is sufficient, there are other requirements that are needed to have a legal Will.  Finally, the fact that your husband was her health proxy and that you were listed on her DNR has no bearing.  At this point you should consult directly with a probate attorney in your area.  


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