A Will is a legal document that directs how to distribute property upon death. A Will also nominates people for important roles, such as executor of the will, guardian of minor children, and trustee.

If you are like most people, you are visiting our site because you have decided it was time to put together your Will orTrust. Perhaps you are not sure which one you need. We find that many people interchange the term “will” and “trust.” Our goal is to help you understand the important differences between the two documents. It could save your family a lot of time and money.

One of the most important differences that may surprise you is that a Will does NOT avoid probate. Even if you carefully document your wishes in a Will, your estate will still end up in probate after your death. A will does not avoid probate;in fact, in most cases, it guarantees it.

Here are the top seven reasons all New Yorkers should have a Will:

1)  You decide how your estate will be distributed. A Will is a legally binding document that lets you determine how you would like your estate to be handled upon your death. If you die without a Will, there is no guarantee that your intended desires will be carried out. Having a will helps minimize any family fights about your estate that may arise, and also determines the “who, what, and when” of your estate.

2) You decide who will take care of your minor children. A Will allows you to make an informed decision about who should take care of your minor children. Absent a Will, the court will take it upon itself to choose among family members or a state-appointed guardian. Having a Will allows you to appoint the person you want to raise your children or, better, make sure it is not someone you do NOT want to raise your children.

3) To avoid a lengthy probate process. If you have a Will, you will almost certainly have to go through probate. The process will be much faster than if you died without a Will. Having a Will speeds up the probate process and informs the court how you’d like your estate divided. If you die without a Will, the court will decide how to divide estate without your input, which can also cause long, unnecessary delays.

4)     You decide who will wind up the affairs of your estate. You name an executor in your Will. Executors make sure all your affairs are in order, including paying off bills, canceling your credit cards, and notifying the bank and other business establishments. Because executors play the biggest role in the administration of your estate, you’ll want to be sure to appoint someone who is honest, trustworthy, and organized (which may or may not always be a family member).

5) You can disinherit individuals who would otherwise stand to inherit. Most people do not realize they can disinherit individuals in theirWill. Because Wills specifically outline how you would like your estate distributed, absent a Will your estate may end up on the wrong hands or in the hands of someone you did not intend (such as an ex-spouse with whom you had a bitter divorce).

6) Because you can change your mind if your life circumstances change. A good reason for having a Will is that you can change it at any time while you’re still alive. Life changes, such as births, deaths, and divorce, all create situations where changing your Will are necessary.

7) Because tomorrow is not promised. Procrastination and the unwillingness to accept death as part of life are common reasons for not having a Will. Sometimes the realization a Will is necessarycomes too late, like when an unexpected death or disability occurs. To avoid the added stress on families during an already emotional time, it is wiseto draw up a Will before it’s too late.

Important Notes

Our office charges a predetermined flat fee for the preparation and execution of your Will and other documents such as a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy.

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