Why do I need a will at all? Who will get my property if I do not have a will?

Under state laws of descent and distribution of intestate estates (i.e., estates of decedents without wills), your property will pass to a specified list of relatives. These may not be your first choices to whom you want your estate to pass. For example, if you die without a will in New York State and you are married with children, your spouse will receive the first $50,000 of your estate and one-half of the balance of your estate. Your children would receive the remaining half of the balance of your estate. If those who become entitled to share in your intestate estate are minors, they could be faced with the requirement of going to court each time there is a need for money. There may also be other legal requirements, such as a surety bond, that could make the whole process expensive and time-consuming. The failure to have a will can also result in a lost opportunity to protect heirs from divorce, taxes, loss of government benefits, lawsuits, creditor claims and other potential demands or obligations that may erode their inheritance.

Posted in: Estate Planning and Elder Law