It is difficult to contemplate our own deaths or to think about the possibility of becoming incapacitated. However, creating a plan for these situations is vitally important to ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes and those closest to you receive the support and security you have worked so hard to provide them.
The only way to make sure that your wishes for your estate are heard and followed after your death is to create a will that explicitly states how your assets are to be divided. A will also allow you to nominate a guardian for any minor children after your death, and it allows you to name an executor of the will—a person you trust to make sure the will is followed in accordance with your wishes. With the help of an experienced and knowledgeable New York attorney, you will be able to craft a last will and testament that most accurately reflects your wishes for your estate following your death.
Estate Planning in New York
Estate planning is a broad term that includes the creation of legal documents and structures that allow your wishes for your estate to be fulfilled even in your absence. One of the most common elements of estate planning is the last will and testament, which specifies how you would like your estate to be divided and who will be the beneficiaries of that estate.
Another type of estate planning that may be beneficial is a living will or advanced directive, which specifies your desires regarding medical decisions should you become incapacitated and unable to make those decisions for yourself when the need arises.
Trusts, such as a revocable living trust or an educational trust for your children, are other ways to plan for the management of your estate and your assets in the event of your incapacity or death. In general, the creation of a trust does not exclude the need for a will. A will can specify the distribution of assets which may not be held in trust, and it can nominate a guardian for minor children.
Who Needs a Will
Any adult of sound mind should consider making a will. A will is about much more than the division of a sizable estate, and making a will is not something that is for the wealthy alone.
If you die intestate, or without a will, the state of New York will determine how your assets are to be divided. In some cases, the laws of intestate succession will align with the wishes of the decedent, but that is purely coincidental. New York law follows a prescribed formula for intestate succession, giving the estate to a surviving spouse or dividing the estate between the spouse and children.
If you are unmarried, things become more complicated. For example, if you are unmarried without children, your parents inherit your estate in the absence of a will. An unmarried partner would receive nothing. Stepchildren do not inherit from a deceased stepparent unless they have been legally adopted.
The only way to make sure that those you love are provided for in accordance with your wishes, rather than a formula dictated by New York law, is to create a legally binding will with the help of a wills attorney that makes those wishes known.
How to Make a Will
The best way to make a last will and testament that accurately reflects your wishes for your estate and avoids complications in probate is to consult a wills attorney who understands New York laws related to wills. A lawyer who has years of experience under his/her belt will be able to explain the intricacies and complexities of each individual’s specific case.