US Senator Ted Stevens Death Raises Concerns About Estate Planning

A deadly Alaskan plane crash that killed former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and critically injured former National Aeronautics and Space Administration chief Sean O’Keefe was left exposed to the elements on a rain-swept mountainside for nearly three hours before anyone noticed they were missing on Tuesday, August 11th. A search was launched when someone called from their fishing lodge destination to find out when they would be home for dinner. Rescuers spotted the wreckage on a steep, 30-degree slope partway to the Nushagak River, where they had planned to fish for silver salmon. The 86-year-old Stevens, was a powerful politician who helped secure statehood for Alaska and won billions of dollars in federal monies for the region in 40 years as its U.S. senator, was dead, along with the pilot, a GCI telecom executive and her teenage daughter, and Washington, D.C., lobbyist William Phillips, a former Stevens staffer. The crash occurred near Lake Aleknagik, a Yupik Eskimo word meaning “wrong way home.” The lake is named as such because Alaska Natives returning to their homes along the Nushagak River would sometimes get lost in the fog. LA Times

The importance of Estate Planning becomes a crucial issue when the death of a loved one occurs. A validly executed Law Will and Testament are essential in determining a testator’s intent in distributing the nature and bounty of his assets. Under New York Estate Powers and Trusts Law, a valid will must be executed by following the following steps: the documents must be in writing, signed by the testator at the end of the document, in the presence of two witnesses and published by the testator in which he declares that the documents is in fact his Last Will and Testament. It is not necessary that the witnesses signed in the presence of one another but must be signed within 30 days of one another. If any one of these elements are missing, the will can be validly contested in Court and will not be admitted into probate as a result. As a result, the testators assets will descend to heirs under the laws of intestacy instead of what the testator intended in his Will.

The attorneys at Leeds, Morelli & Brown, P.C. have worked with many clients in Nassau and Suffolk counties, Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island.  For questions regarding probate and estate planning, please contact an attorney at the Leeds Morelli & Brown P.C. law firm for a free consultation at 1-888-556-2529 or visit the firm’s website at

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