What is a Will and why do I need one?
A will is a legal document that specifies how you want your property and assets to be distributed after your death. Under New York Estates Law, a will is defined as “(a) A will is an oral declaration or written instrument … whereby a person disposes of property or directs how it shall not be disposed of, disposes of his body or any part thereof, exercises a power, appoints a fiduciary or makes any other provision for the administration of his estate, and which is revocable during his lifetime.”
Who may make a will?
In New York, every person eighteen years of age or over, of sound mind and memory, may make a will to dispose of real and personal property and exercise a power to appoint such property.
Why do I need a Will?
There are several reasons why you may need a will:
- To specify how you want your property and assets to be distributed: Without a will, your property and assets will be distributed according to state laws (Intestate), which may not be in accordance with your wishes. A will allows you to specify how you want your property and assets to be distributed and to whom you want them to go.
- To appoint a guardian for minor children: If you have minor children, a will allows you to appoint a guardian to care for your children in the event of your death. Without a will, a court will determine who will care for your children.
- To appoint an executor: An executor is the person who is responsible for managing the distribution of your property and assets according to your will. A will allows you to appoint an executor of your choice, rather than having the court appoint an executor.
In summary, a will is a legal document that specifies how you want your property and assets to be distributed after your death.
Why don’t I need a Will?
Typically it is beneficial to have a will, but when there are no assets that are not automatically transferred upon death or the intestacy laws are sufficient, a will might prove unnecessary. Here are a few situations when may not need a will:
- If you have no assets or property: If you have no assets or property, a will may not be necessary because there will be nothing to distribute after your death.
- If you have a small amount of assets: If you have a small amount of assets and you are confident that your loved ones will be able to resolve any issues that may arise after your death, you may not need a will.
- If you have a revocable living trust: If you have a revocable living trust, you may not need a will because the trust will dictate how your assets are to be distributed after your death. You may, however, want to have a pour over will transfer any forgotten assets into the trust after death.
It is important to note that even if you do not need a will, it may still be a good idea to create one. A will can provide peace of mind and can ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death.
Why is it called a “last will and testament”?
A will is called a “last will and testament” because it is a legal document that specifies how you want your property and assets to be distributed after your death. The term “last will and testament” refers to the fact that a will is typically the last document that a person creates to express their final wishes and to dispose of their property.
The term “testament” refers to the fact that a will is a testamentary document, which means that it takes effect after the person’s death. A testamentary document is a legal document that becomes effective upon the death of the person who created it.
You can read more about Wills on the New York Court website. It is generally a good idea to consult with an attorney or a financial planner to determine whether a will is necessary for your situation.