No matter how much money you have, a will guarantees that whatever property, personal belongings and assets you have will go to family members or beneficiaries you choose. If you have children, a will is necessary, as it will ensure that you get to choose your children’s guardian.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will?
No, you do not need an attorney to make a will, provided your document complies with all the statutory requirements. In our opinion, you should have an attorney prepare your will to make sure that your will is valid. Form wills from internet companies do not come with legal or tax planning advice specific for your needs, and that form company will not be there to testify on your behalf if that will is contested in court.
Without a will, your assets are distributed in accordance with the law of the state where you reside. Likewise, if your will is declared invalid, New York’s courts will distribute your estate in accordance with New York’s Intestacy Law, which distributes estates as follows:
- If you are survived by a spouse and children, your spouse will take the first $50,000 and one-half of the rest of your estate, and your children would share the rest.
- If your spouse dies before you, your children will share equally in your estate.
- If you have a child that died before you, that child’s children will share equally in that child’s share.
- If you are not survived by wife or children, your estate would go to your parents, uncles/aunts and cousins.
- If the court will not be able to find any of your relatives beyond a certain degree, the state will take over your property.
In your will, you also appoint an executor to take care of your affairs and distribute your estate. You would choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes. Without a will, your family might disagree with whom the court appoints as an administrator, which may result in probate litigation.