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Why It’s Important to Write A Will, and What Happens If You Don’t Have One in New York State

Last Will and Testament with Fountain Pen

Last Will and Testament with Fountain PenAs New Yorkers hunker at home to help curb the spread of Covid-19, many are considering whether they should consider creating or updating their wills.

And while there are some practical challenges to finalizing a will while we practice social distancing, you can still get the process started.

If you don’t think you have enough assets to warrant a will or are superstitious about writing one, you’re not alone. More than half of American adults do not have wills. And while most of us don’t like to think about what will happen when we die, it is almost always a bad idea to die without a will.

A will, at its most basic level, is a set of instructions that stipulate who gets what and who manages and distributes your assets after your death. For those with adequate wealth, it is also one of several documents that create an estate plan designed to minimize estate taxes and ensure an orderly administration of property following one’s death.

A will ensures your assets go to the right people and charitable causes you care about. Without one, your assets will be distributed in accordance with New York State law. This could mean that your assets benefit distant family members with whom you had no relationship, or it might even pass to the state, rather than favored charitable causes such as The New York Community Trust.

A will is also used by a parent to nominate a guardian for children in the event that one must be appointed, such as if a child were under 18 and both parents were no longer living.

With a properly executed will, however, you can make sure your children are taken care of, provide for your survivors, designate assets for charities, and clearly state how complex assets will be handled.

In the latest edition of Professional Tax and Estate Planning Notes, Jane Wilton, The New York Community Trust’s general counsel, discusses the Consequences of Dying Without a Will in New York State.

Read the article here, or share it with your professional advisor.