If you want to write a Last Will & Testament, who are you going to nominate as the Executor?
Let me give you an example of what to watch out for. It may seem obvious, yet it is something that has been known to happen from time to time
We had a situation not too long ago. The person “Jane”, who contacted us was named the Executor in the Last Will & Testament of a relative. However, because she was what is called a non-domiciled alien, she could not qualify. She lives in Canada and was not a citizen of the USA. She also had no desire to qualify in any event.
There are 3 main qualifications that must be met before you can serve as an Executor: be a citizen or live in the USA. If you are not a citizen, for instance, you have a green card; be over 18 years of age and not having been convicted of a felony. This blog deals with the status of the Executor and what happens when a person fails to know the legal name of their nominated Executor.
In any event, the person who had written the Will wanted her niece “Jane” appointed as Executor, but the niece was unable to serve and, in any event, did not wish to serve as Executor.
I explained the process and forms needed to Renounce, which is a fancy way of saying “I do not want the responsibility” and was given the contact information for “Jonny”, the person nominated by the decedent to be the Alternate Executor.
When Jonny came into the office I asked for his identification.
That is when I learned his name was not in fact Jonny but another name. It seems that this person’s nickname is Jonny but his real name was Clark. The person who wrote the Will either was unaware of his true name or simply used the name by which she knew Clark.
So, the lesson for today is that if you will be coming to the attorney to draft that Last Will and Testament, be sure to know the correct legal name for every person who will be named in any capacity within that document. A good way to check this is just to ask the person to show her or his picture identification. In our neighborhood we have a large immigrant population. For instance folks born in French Guyana may have a French name as well as an English name and what is called the “pet” name or nickname. I had a secretary who was born in French Guyana and someone would call while she was at lunch and ask for a “Seeta”. I would say that no such person works for me until one day my secretary gave me her story of the 3 names.
Here at Evan Rogers Law PC, we have a worksheet we give every client interested in a Last Will & Testament. We go over the details before you execute the document so that your wishes are honored. It should come as no surprise that one should know exactly what one owns, possesses and may soon have when contemplating a Last Will and Testament. Also one should know the dates of birth and if possible the social security numbers of one’s children. This is so that they can be skip traced should they have moved.
This is important because if a person named in the Last Will and Testament can not be located the Surrogate’s Court will ORDER the Publication in newspapers of a legal notice and possibly even order the appointment of a Guardian Ad litem to look after the interests of such person or persons. That is expensive !
Don’t let the State of New York decide where your property shall go after you are gone. You have every right to make your own decisions and choices. The State of New York has rules called Intestate Succession that control if there is no valid Last Will and Testament.
With 4 decades of service to the community, we can help you draft that Last Will and Testament, so YOUR WISHES are honored and so that your assets are distributed in the manner that is your choice.
Please reach out to us now firstname.lastname@example.org