If you're thinking about creating your last will and testament, you may feel a little overwhelmed by the process. Your will must include a range of vital information, and if you've never created one before, you may not know where to start.
Working with an estate planning attorney can ensure that your will contains all the necessary information. Below, our Schneider, Garrastegui, and Fedele, PLLC legal team in Melville, New York shares seven essential items to include in your New York will.
1. Name and Family Information
The beginning section of your will should include essential information about your and your family. First, create a heading with your full name, county, and a legal declaration that this document is your last will and testament. This section should also include your marital status and list your children.
Every will must have an executor, the person responsible for carrying out the tasks within the will.
The executor will be responsible for:
- Offering the will for probate
- Protecting the assets of the estate
- Distributing property to beneficiaries
- Paying your debts and taxes
Most people choose a close family member, friend, or legal professional as an executor. You should also list at least one backup executor who can assume the position if your original choice is unable or unwilling to act in this role.
Along with naming the executor, your will should also state the person's powers. Our team can help you determine what authority to give your executor and how to list them in your last will and testament.
3. Debts and Taxes
One aspect of settling an estate is paying off the decedent's debts and any remaining taxes they owe. That would be the executor's job.
4. Disposition of Assets
One of the most crucial components of your will is the section listing how you want to distribute your assets after you pass. Providing as much detail as possible to your attorney can ensure that your property ends up in the hands of the right people and remove ambiguity during the probate process.
Your will should inform your attorney of all of your major financial assets, including your:
- Bank accounts
- Brokerage accounts
- Real estate
Also include other personal property that holds value, such as:
You may also want to distribute sentimental items to specific family members or friends. Because family members often fight over these items during probate, itemizing them in your will can help prevent arguments.
When you die, your last will and testament must go through probate before your beneficiaries can receive any assets. If you'd like to avoid probate or have greater control over your asset distribution, you can also consider creating a living trust.
Your will is also the place to nominate a legal guardian for your minor should you become unable to care for them. Although the Judge still has the final say as to who is appointed as the guardian, naming a guardian in your will informs the Judge as to who you believe will be better able to be appointed
You can also consider creating a power of attorney at the same time as your will. This document can give a family member or friend the authority to make decisions on your behalf.
6. General Provisions
Your will should also include a general provisions section that provides more context and clarity about the information it contains. For example, you may want a provision about the gender of all words in the will. If you plan to leave property to a future child or grandchild of whom you do not yet know the gender, the gendered words you use in the will may not be accurate. This section may seem like overkill, but it can ensure that your will stands up in court.
Finally, your will should include a definition section that clarifies any potentially ambiguous language. This section can also prevent conflict during probate and ensure that your wishes for your property come to fruition.
The legal process of establishing a will is complex; therefore, the assistance of an attorney is invaluable. If you're searching online for "lawyers near me for wills," our team at Schneider, Garrastegui & Fedele PLLC can help. Contact us at (631) 519-9831 to schedule a consultation for your last will and testament.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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135 Pinelawn Rd #250s
Melville, NY 11747