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What Are the Risks If I Avoid Estate Planning?


Anyone in or around our area (Westchester County and Putnam County) should consider estate planning, regardless of their age or their relative health. Yet many people put off estate planning until they are older, or until they learn that they are facing a serious illness. It is important to know that there are significant risks if you avoid estate planning – even if you are a younger person and are not anticipating any sudden or unexpected life events. Since no one knows what the future will look like, it is critical to make plans in the event that an unexpected life event arises. In the meantime, we want to tell you about some of the risks if you avoid estate planning and to encourage you to seek advice from an estate planning attorney as soon as you can.

Your Assets Will Be Distributed According to New York Intestacy Law

If you pass away without a Will (also known as dying “intestate”), your assets will be distributed according to New York intestacy law. In other words, you will have no control over the distribution of your property.  You will not be able to leave certain specific property to particular family members, friends, or charities. Instead, the rules governing intestate succession will determine how your assets are distributed. By working with an attorney to write a valid Will, you can ensure that your possessions are delivered appropriately to your loved ones.

You Will Not Have a Say About Who Will Be in Charge of Taking Care of Your Children

If you have minor children, you want to ensure that a family member or friend whom you trust takes care of your children in the event of your sudden passing.  This can be accomplished by appointing a Guardian for your children in your Will.  Without such a provision in your Will, that extremely important decision will fall to a perfect stranger – to a judge whom you have never met and who does not know your family dynamic, your values and your goals.

You Will Not Be Able to Voice Your Decisions About Certain Healthcare Issues If You Become Incapacitated

If you do not work with an estate planning lawyer to craft advance directives—such as a Health Care Proxy or a Living Will—you will not be able to have a say in any major health care decisions if you become incapacitated and cannot voice your own wishes.

You Could End Up on Life Support When You Do Not Want It

As we mentioned above, one essential part of estate planning is the creation of advance directives. A Living Will allows you to say in advance—in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot voice your wishes yourself—that you do not want life support if you enter a vegetative state without the possibility of recovery, which would only artificially prolong the natural process of passing.

You Could Leave Your Family Members in a Difficult Position When It Comes to Your Healthcare

One of the benefits of estate planning and the creation of advance directives is that you can remove some of the anxiety that comes when a family member must make a decision about life support or a similar issue. If you do not have a Living Will or a DNR, a spouse or an adult child may have to make a significant decision, and the weight of having to make that decision can be extremely difficult.

Contact a Putnam County Estate Planning Attorney

It is never too late to begin working with an experienced Westchester County or Putnam County estate planning lawyer on wills, trusts, advance directives, and other estate planning issues. Contact Meyer & Spencer, PC today for more information about estate planning in New York.

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