The Importance of Drafting a Last Will and Testament

Good estate planning involves taking control over what happens to your property and assets after your death, and knowing your loved ones will be cared for. There are many tools available to help you plan your estate, and one of the most important of these is your Will. Many people sincerely intend to create a will, but most do not actually follow through with their intentions. Excuses for not drafting a will usually involve waiting for a certain event, such as the purchase of a house, the sale of a business, the birth of a child or a marriage. The thought usually goes something along the lines of, “I will make a will once…X happens.”

No matter what your intentions or how many landmarks you may set for drafting a Will, our lives are filled with so much change and uncertain circumstances that there will always be another easy excuse to wait just a little while longer. That is why the best time to start working with a lawyer to draft a Will is the present. No matter how old you are, or what your current state of health, you should always have a will that is up to date and valid.

One of the biggest advantages of having a Will is that your assets and property are distributed according to your wishes rather than through the decision of a court. If you die without a will, the state will create one for you and decide how your assets will be split using general, generic legal formulas. The state will also appoint guardians for any minor children.

Some things to consider when drafting a Will are:

1. You should determine who is to receive your assets and property and whether they are to receive it directly or in a trust.

2. You should choose an executor for your estate who will make sure your wishes are carried out in a timely and orderly manner.

3. You should take into account your family circumstances by naming a guardian for your children and making plans for loved ones who are disabled, ill or unable to handle an inheritance.

4. You may make business arrangements such as determining how a business will be continued or sold. Business arrangements may also include the arrangement of a program of charitable giving.

5. You may choose to acknowledge or otherwise provide for a child, who may not be your own but in whom you have an interest, or an elderly parent, or another individual.

You will be saving your family from hassle, legal fees and arguments if you establish how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. Creating a valid Last Will and Testament is a critical part of any estate plan.

Bernard Krooks is a New York Elder Law and New York Estate Planning lawyer with offices in White Plains, Fishkill, and New York, New York. To learn more, visit Littmankrooks.com.

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