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Understanding the consequences of dying without a valid will

Residents of New York might know that they should take the necessary steps to create an estate plan such as having a will. For all the good intentions that go along with will planning, it might be put off until later, repeatedly. Procrastination is a profound negative as failure to prepare for the inevitable future and not having a will can cause major problems for the loved ones after the person's death. There are multiple issues when a person dies without a will. Knowing and understanding the consequences should lead to a change of plans and the decision to create even a basic will.

When a person dies without a will, certain issues such as caring for a child will be left to the courts. This is particularly problematic if the other parent has problems that render him or her incapable of providing good care. The courts might give custody to another relative, but nothing is guaranteed if there is no document specifying how such a circumstance should be handled. This is also important with assets and personal items. A car, collectibles and more will be at the mercy of the court if there is intestacy.

For those who had a significant other but never bothered to marry, not having a will can leave that person completely left out. The law does not acknowledge couples that did not have a legal marriage. There could be a situation in which the decedent did not have a strong relationship with relatives, but their assets and property go to the relatives instead of the significant other because they never married and there was no will.

It might not be an easy step to admit that life is finite and everyone eventually dies. However, failing to create a will or any other aspect of an estate plan is a mistake. Those who are functioning without a will at any age above 18 should rethink that decision. Discussing the benefits of will planning with a lawyer who is experienced in all aspects of estate administration can provide advice on the usefulness of a will and other alternatives.

Source: usnews.com, "What Happens When You Don't Leave a Will," Geoff Williams, Oct. 24, 2017

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