The age old question is should I have a Will? A Will is a legal declaration by which a person names one or more persons to manage his/her estate and provide for the transfer of their property at death.
The many advantages of having a Will is that the testator/testatrix can determine exactly how their property will be distributed and to whom. If you have a particular family heirloom, jewelry, collection, etc. you can designate the person who will be receiving this. In the United States, children may be disinherited by a parent’s will. You have designated what and who will be receiving your estate. By having a Will, this creates less pressure on the Executor/Executrix when carrying out the terms of your Will since everything has been outlined.
When you die intestate, without a will, someone (usually a family member) has to be appointed Administrator and your residuary estate is bound to a line of succession. A spouse may think they are entitled to the entire Estate, however, without a Will; the spouse receives $50,000.00 plus one-half of the Estate if children are involved. The children will then receive one-half of the residuary estate. This is where arguments may occur amongst family members who are distributees to an Estate. The writer of this blog has seen this occur many times. Siblings fight over who is to be appointed Administrator which leads to distention in the family and perhaps, no future communication. One has to remember how one benefits from an Estate, a loved one has died.
There is no legal requirement that a will be drawn by a lawyer, although there are pitfalls into which home-made Wills can fall. If you were to draw up a will yourself, you cannot explain yourself or correct any technical deficiency or errors. Thus there is little room for mistake. A common error in the execution of a home-made will is to use a beneficiary (typically a spouse or other close family member) as a witness, although this has the effect in law of disinheriting the witness regardless of the provisions of the will.
To avoid any miscommunication, desires, wishes, etc. is best that you have a Will!
If you, or someone you know, is in need of a Will, we request that you contact our office so that we can help take you through all of the necessary steps required to have all your wishes known to your loved ones. You can reach us at (914) 288-0800.