No one likes facing up to the prospect of their own mortality, but that is preferable to leaving a financial mess behind for your loved ones. A will lawyer can help you prepare the documentation needed to prevent that kind of thing from happening.
You may not think that creating a will is important but failing to write one can be truly problematic for the people you leave behind. Certain parties may challenge your estate, and they could claim ownership of assets that you do not want going to them. Even your own well-being could be affected if you do not prepare a will.
Learn more about the value of a last will and testament and the importance of hiring a will attorney by reading on.
What Is a Last Will and Testament?
To get started, let’s first define what a will is.
Basically, your will is supposed to serve as a statement declaring how you want your assets managed after you pass away. It needs to be as detailed as possible to carry out your wishes. Among the details included in your will are your assets.
Among the details that must be included in your will are your assets. List all your assets, and do not leave anything out that people could contest.
Your will should also include the names of the people who will receive your assets.
Within your will, you must indicate how you want your assets divided. Indicate how much money people will receive. If you have real estate properties, you should also name their recipients.
Include contact details for your beneficiaries as well so the lawyers can get a hold of them quickly.
A will should also contain information regarding potential guardianship for the loved ones you may leave behind. You will only need to detail guardianship for your children who are still minors at the time you are writing your will.
Do not forget to name an executor, this person is who you want in charge of managing your estate when you die. Choose someone who you trust completely to follow your wishes.
Those are some basic details that you must include in a will. The contents may still change based on what kind of document you want to provide.
What Are the Types of Wills?
As we hinted at above, there are different types of wills you can create. Let’s go over some of the alternatives to the conventional last will and testament and see if they make more sense for your current situation.
A joint will, as you have probably guessed, contains the wishes of two people. To be more specific, married couples use them to dictate how they want their assets managed.
You should know that you cannot change joint wills once one of the spouses dies. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page as you put that will together.
Next up, you have the testamentary trusts. With a testamentary trust, you are authorizing the creation of a trust using your will once you pass away.
The trustee you named in your will is the one who will manage the assets meant to go to your beneficiaries. They will distribute your assets by following your wishes.
Writing a testamentary trust is a good idea if you have young children. By opting for a testamentary trust, you can ensure that your children will receive their inheritance when they are older and wiser.
A living will is different from a last will and testament in terms of its focus. Instead of focusing on the distribution of your assets, living wills can detail your preferences for your end-of-life care. It may prove useful as you grow older or if you become incapacitated before that.
It is important to note that New York State does not provide a standard form for living wills. However, the state of New York will still recognize your living will as long as they provide “clear and convincing evidence” of your wishes.
What Are the Requirements for Creating a Last Will and Testament?
Now that you know what to include in your will and what type you need to create, you can start working on it. So, what are the requirements for creating that document?
The requirements for creating a last will and testament in New York State are simple. First off, you must be 18 years or older when you create your will. You must also be of sound mind and memory as you create that important document.
Signing your will in front of witnesses is also required if you want your will to hold up in court. In the state of New York, you must sign your will with two witnesses present. Your lawyer cannot be a witness if they drafted the document.
Why Do You Need a Will Attorney?
Speaking of your lawyer, you should know that their presence is not required when you are creating your will. A will attorney does not need to sign off on your will to become valid.
So, why do you need to hire a will lawyer?
The lawyer’s job is to make sure that the document you created is handled properly. Your attorney can tell you where to store your will. The Surrogate’s Court covering your county may provide a vault for wills, so feel free to take advantage of that.
Your lawyer can also assist you if you need to make copies of your will. Some courts are strict when it comes to how wills should be copied. If the court suspects that your will was tampered with illegally, they may not accept it.
Leave the job of creating copies of your will up to your lawyer. They know how to handle it properly, so it will always be deemed valid by the courts.
Creating your last will and testament protects you, your loved ones, and your interests. Partner with us at the Alber Law Group, and we will help you create and store that document. Reach out to us whenever you are ready to work on your will because we are ready to help anytime.
Will Lawyer FAQs
A “living will” is a written, legal document that states medical treatments you would and would not want to be used to keep you alive (e.g., artificial nutrition and hydration), as well as your preferences for other medical decisions, such as pain management or organ donation.
A “last will and testament” is a written document wherein a person states, among other things, their wishes as to how such person’s assets are to be distributed upon their decease.
If a person dies without a valid Last Will and Testament as a New York domicile and there are assets that are not otherwise distributed by operation of law, such assets are to be distributed pursuant to New York State’s intestacy law set forth in the EPTL 4-1.1. A legal process known as an estate “administration” is required. This process begins by first determining who is in the deceased’s family. If there is a spouse and no children, the spouse receives 100 percent of the estate.
If there is a spouse and children, the spouse receives $50,000 plus half of the balance of the estate. The children inherit everything else. If one of the children is deceased and they had children, those children take their deceased parent’s share. When there are just children and no spouse, the children share the estate equally. When there is no spouse and no children, parents inherit everything. When there is no spouse, no children, no parents, siblings inherit everything. A representative must step forward to be appointed on behalf of the Deceased’s estate and complete the administration process with the Surrogates Court.
The person(s) named in the Last Will and Testament as the “executor” is responsible for the filing of the Last Will and Testament with the Surrogates Court, along with a petition for probate and other required affidavits and documentation. This process is known as “probate.” Once the last will and testament is admitted to the Court as a valid legal document and the Surrogates Court issues “letters testamentary” to the executor, then such person shall distribute the deceased’s assets in accordance with the wishes stated in the last will and testament.
A “business success plan” is a written plan (often corporate documentation and estate planning documentation) that establishes the procedure to be followed when a business owner deceases, retires, or becomes disabled.
The exact wording of the last will and testament will determine whether or not the gift lapses (expires) or is instead allocated to another person.
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