Putnam County Wills Lawyer
A will is the cornerstone of most estate plans. With your will, you can identify who will inherit your property after death, but a will does much more than that. Without a will, you give up a tremendous amount of control about how your estate will be handled once you are gone. Fortunately, it is never too early to draft a will, though you will probably need to revisit it at some point in the future. Our Putnam County wills lawyers are here to help today.
What Does a Will Do?
A will has several functions, such as:
- Distributing your property after death. You will name beneficiaries to inherit property, including money and real estate. You should also name a contingent beneficiary in case your first pick dies before you.
- Naming the person who will administer your estate. This person is the “executor,” and he or she will be responsible for paying debts, preserving your assets, and distributing them to beneficiaries.
- Naming people to serve as guardians of minor children.
- Funding a trust. You might want to use a trust, which you can fund at death by using a will.
If you die without a will, then a judge will need to appoint an administrator for the estate. Your property will also be distributed according to New York’s intestacy rules, which means property could end up in the hands of people you do not want to have it.
Is There Anything a Will Doesn’t Do?
You don’t leave all property through a will. For example, you will name beneficiaries to life insurance and retirement accounts on the policy itself.
Also, some property can pass outside probate if it is held in joint tenancy. This is often true of real estate, including homes, but also bank accounts and other assets.
You also cannot leave property to your pets in a will. The law considers pets, even life-long pets, to be personal property, no different than your furniture or car. If you want to make sure your pets are taken care of after you pass, you should consider a pet trust.
Are There Disadvantages to Using a Will?
A will must be probated in court, so its contents will become public. Also, the probate process is often long and tedious, which can be a problem if your family needs immediate access to assets to live on. Depending on your circumstances, you might also want to complement the will with a trust or some other estate planning tool.
However, most people have a will, even if it is supplemented by other documents. For many of our clients, a will takes care of most of their estate planning needs.
Can’t I Write My Own Will?
You can. Some people have written their own wills, but in doing so they increase the risk of their will being invalidated by the probate court. Not only will a lawyer make sure your will is legal, but an experienced wills lawyer will help you head off any problems that might arise after death, such as a will challenge.
Speak with an Experienced Wills Lawyer Today
Drafting a valid will requires careful planning. At Meyer & Spencer, we work closely with our clients to realize their individual estate planning goals. To start the process, please call us at 845-628-0009. We serve clients in Mahopac and the rest of Putnam County.