A will is a written document that provides for the appointment of an executor and the distribution of your property after your death. If you die without a will, your property will pass under what is known as the laws of intestacy. Under these laws, if you are survived by:
- A spouse and descendants: The first $50,000 and one-half of the remainder passes to your spouse, and the balance passes to your descendants.
- A spouse and no descendants: Your whole estate passes to your spouse.
- Descendants, but no spouse: All to your descendants.
- A parent or parents, but no spouse or descendants: All to the surviving parent or parents.
Additional rules apply where only distant relatives survive you. But are these laws consistent with your wishes? If not, then a will is a must.
Another important reason to have a will is to protect your minor children. If you and your spouse die at about the same time, you can name a guardian for your children. This ensures that your children are raised and cared for by someone you trust and who shares the same values as you. Without a will, the guardian for your children will be selected by the court and may not be the same person you would have chosen. In addition, you can provide that any remaining assets pass to your children, in trust, and make specific directions to the guardian as to how you want those assets to be spent.
In conclusion, every adult in New York should have a will and the benefits will be well worth the minimal investment. Our office has prepared hundreds and would be happy to assist you.