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  • Writer's picture史敏 律师

在美自己立遗嘱有效吗?



问:在美自己立遗嘱有效吗?


答:有效与否,要看法律规定的遗嘱的生效要件是否满足。生效要件至少包括实体要件和形式要件。美国各州的法律网上或者当地法院图书馆里都可以查,比如纽约州的遗嘱生效要件适用法条EPTL 3-1.1 和 EPTL 3-2.1. 有兴趣的朋友可以自己阅读一下法条内容,初步了解一下形式上的生效要件。没有兴趣的,可以直接跳过以下英文条文。


EPTL 3-1.1:Every person eighteen years of age or over, of sound mind and memory, may by will dispose of real and personal property and exercise a power to appoint such property.


EPTL 3-2.1 : (a) Except for nuncupative and holographic wills authorized by 3-2.2, every will must be in writing, and executed and attested in the following manner:(1) It shall be signed at the end thereof by the testator or, in the name of the testator, by another person in his presence and by his direction, subject to the following:(A) The presence of any matter following the testator's signature, appearing on the will at the time of its execution, shall not invalidate such matter preceding the signature as appeared on the will at the time of its execution, except that such matter preceding the signature shall not be given effect, in the discretion of the surrogate, if it is so incomplete as not to be readily comprehensible without the aid of matter which follows the signature, or if to give effect to such matter preceding the signature would subvert the testator's general plan for the disposition and administration of his estate.(B) No effect shall be given to any matter, other than the attestation clause, which follows the signature of the testator, or to any matter preceding such signature which was added subsequently to the execution of the will.(C) Any person who signs the testator's name to the will, as provided in subparagraph (1), shall sign his own name and affix his residence address to the will but shall not be counted as one of the necessary attesting witnesses to the will.  A will lacking the signature of the person signing the testator's name shall not be given effect;  provided, however, the failure of the person signing the testator's name to affix his address shall not affect the validity of the will.(2) The signature of the testator shall be affixed to the will in the presence of each of the attesting witnesses, or shall be acknowledged by the testator to each of them to have been affixed by him or by his direction.  The testator may either sign in the presence of, or acknowledge his signature to each attesting witness separately.(3) The testator shall, at some time during the ceremony or ceremonies of execution and attestation, declare to each of the attesting witnesses that the instrument to which his signature has been affixed is his will.(4) There shall be at least two attesting witnesses, who shall, within one thirty day period, both attest the testator's signature, as affixed or acknowledged in their presence, and at the request of the testator, sign their names and affix their residence addresses at the end of the will.  There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the thirty day requirement of the preceding sentence has been fulfilled.  The failure of a witness to affix his address shall not affect the validity of the will.(b) The procedure for the execution and attestation of wills need not be followed in the precise order set forth in paragraph (a) so long as all the requisite formalities are observed during a period of time in which, satisfactorily to the surrogate, the ceremony or ceremonies of execution and attestation continue.”


如果你连法条也读不下去,那我觉得你可能不太适合DIY自己的遗嘱,还是放过自己,花点银子,找律师吧。如果你能读完并且都读明白了,那么恭喜你!说明你有潜力可以自己立遗嘱。


不过还是要提醒以下几点:

1)了解遗嘱生效的法律要件,只是第一步,接下来需要了解遗嘱在你所在州的遗产继承法的大框架中所处的位置,以及是如何发挥作用的。就相当于你要盖一个房子,你目前拿在手里的是一块砖,你要知道这块砖怎么用,放在哪里最合适。另外,这还没涉及遗嘱本身怎么写以及实体法律问题,而就单单提了一下生效要件而已。所以你不能得少为足,需要投入更多时间、精力继续学习这个法律领域的知识。


2)生效要件是否都满足了,要有一定的把握,如果没有,那么错误的成本比较大,因为要到用的时候才知道,而那时候立遗嘱的人已经去世了,无力回天,无法自我纠错了。


3)如果你觉得有可能这份遗嘱会引起家庭纠纷的,有人会跳出来挑战遗嘱有效性的,那么最好请律师做,因为律师起草签署的遗嘱,法律上给予了一丢丢优待,有个 “presumption of due execution” 就是推定这是有效的,除非挑战方能拿出实锤证据证明生效要件没有满足。这种举证责任往往是案子成败的关键。


4)对时间成本的考量。在这个社会分工高度专业化的时代,要搞清楚做对一件事情真的不容易,往往需要投入大量的时间、精力,还需要有一定的学习能力。特别是如果对质量还有一定要求的人,那更是自讨苦吃。等你弄完,你会发现,算上你的时间成本,你做了一份最贵的遗嘱。


当然具有超强DIY精神的人,完全有可能通过网络海量的信息(无论是正确的还是错误的),或者很多网络模板中获得灵感,那就祝君好运了!


喜欢本系列文章的话,欢迎订阅,记得点赞、置顶和转发哦!


美国熙承律师事务所提供如下法律业务


遗产信托规划


• 遗嘱

• 指定未成年人监护权

• 授权委托书,医疗决定授权书,生命意愿书

• 生前信托

• 家族信托(dynasty trust)

• 保单信托 (irrevocable life insurance trust)

• 特殊需求信托(special needs trust)

• 白卡信托 (Medicaid Trust)

• 资产保护信托 (asset protection trust)

• 税务优化相关信托

• 婚前、婚中财产协议


中小企业法务


• 公司设立

• 资本融资

• 日常法务

• 员工合同

作者简介

史敏律师,南京大学法学本硕,弗吉尼亚大学(University of Virginia) 法学博士(JD),纽约州和新泽西州的执业律师,并通过中国的司法考试,熟悉中美两国的法律体系。

曾供职于美国著名大型律所Latham & Watkins(瑞生)和Bloomberg(彭博)纽约总部法务部。

主要执业领域:中小企业法务、公司法、商法、家族财富传承。



友情提醒


本文仅为普法随笔,公益性质的信息分享,不构成具体的法律建议。每个企业和个人的情况都千差万别,需要具体问题具体分析。若需要精准的法律服务,欢迎给后台发消息。根据纽约州律师职业道德准则,本文可能被视为包含法律服务广告。本文图片来源网络. 本文版权属于熙承律师事务所,转发请注明出处。


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