1. Having a Will is a basic step in organizing your financial life so that your family will not be overly burdened; 2. You get to choose the person or people who will handle your estate;
3. Wills allow for certain protective trusts to be created within which is really helpful if a beneficiary is disabled or a minor or has a spending problem; 4. Specific dispositions of personal property in a Will may help avoid family conflict; 5. Choosing guardians that you trust for your minor children is better than the alternatives; 6. Letting a dusty old statute divide your money is not the best idea;
7. A Will filed in Surrogate’s Court is a public record which allows for transparency; 8. Naming people in your Will is a lasting form of appreciation.
The expression “having a will drawn up” sounds like a scribe from the middle ages has just sharpened a quill which will be dipped in ink momentarily. Technology has simplified the Will making process and eliminated many of the reasons why people avoided getting a Will prepared in the past.
The decision to make a Will is a desire to simplify the management of your estate. Not having a plan burdens your loved ones. Mourning loss is a delicate and difficult cycle. When an estate lacks proper governance and requires added work and contemplation the results can be trying.
If you die without a Will it is said that you died intestate. Each state has their own laws of intestacy. An Administration in Surrogate’s Court in New York State is the process by which someone’s estate property is divided and administered when no Will can be located. The New York statute contains an order of succession that prioritizes the spouse, then if there are enough assets, the surviving children will share the balance equally.
If these rules do not match your wishes – you should make a Will. Your Will contains the directions that you choose. You get to pick the people who will be in charge of your estate and how your assets are divided. Selected individuals or charities can receive specific bequests according to your estate plan. Testamentary Trusts may also be created by you within your Will to protect the assets of minors or other vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries. An estate that lacks direction may lead to disagreements over personal property, especially if there is furniture, jewelry, collectibles and other non-liquid assets.
If you have minor children and you pass away without naming a Guardian in a Will, an individual who you did not want to have control over your child may petition the court to become Guardian. This result goes beyond asset allocation. This is the security and well-being of your children.
Wills that are filed in Surrogate’s Court are public records. Family members of the decedent can see exactly how the estate is divided and who is in charge. For many families, transparency is a way to avoid conflict and uncertainty.
A Will also functions as a final communication to the people who you care about. It shows the confidence you have in them and the importance of providing a legacy.
Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller to find out more about the Will making process.