The formation of a will is perhaps the single best thing you can do to protect your assets prior to your death. Currently, New York State recognizes a person who dies without having formed a will as “intestate.” If you are deemed intestate after your death, any assets you owned will fall under the authority of a New York Surrogate’s Court. This essentially means that the court will have to use state laws in order to make the determination as to which beneficiaries will receive your assets.
As you might imagine, disputes involving intestate wills and potential beneficiaries can sometimes tear families apart. However, the good news is that your estate planning attorney can help you form a valid will that will be recognized by New York State and transfer your assets according to your wishes.
In a previous blog post, we discussed how an increasing number of Americans are currently using online financial services accessed via various internet websites. Creating a comprehensive listing of all of your digital data accounts, including internet addresses, login names and passwords, is a good initial step towards creating your will.
In addition to compiling information regarding your digital data, you should also create a thorough inventory of all your bank accounts, stocks, furniture, clothing and real estate. Having a thorough, itemized listing prior to your meeting with your attorney can prove beneficial to you in two important ways. First, the formation of your inventory will force you to contemplate which beneficiaries should receive certain items. Secondly, your attorney may review your inventory and use it to ask you about items not included, which you may have forgotten or otherwise overlooked.
Taking action now to complete these simple steps can save your loved ones both time and money in the future.
Source: New York State Unified Courts System, “Surrogate’s Court- Frequently asked questions” Nov. 26, 2014