Some may believe writing a “last will and testament” can wait until tomorrow. But tomorrow is not guaranteed. If you don’t write or help create “a will” and pass on, New York State will take over and divide the assets. The state has defined standards for dividing an estate holder’s property. It does not try to figure out the wishes or the goals of the deceased. It also does not accommodate the unique interests of a family.

Many people, from all walks of life with considerable assets, have failed to put together a last will. You shouldn’t be one of them. Absence of a will creates enormous uncertainty and often leads to turmoil and conflict among family members and loved ones. Quite commonly, this can lead to legal battles that were completely avoidable.

Standards for distribution

When there is no will, New York Law TL 4-1.1 applies to the division of property and assets. The law determines the distribution of these assets and holdings among living and legal relatives.

  • Parents with no spouse or children: All holdings go to the parents.
  • Spouse and no children: The surviving spouse receives all assets and property.
  • Children and no spouse: The state awards the children all property and holdings.
  • Spouse and children: The spouse receives first $50,000 of the estate and then half of the value of the remaining estate. All other assets go to the children.
  • Siblings and no spouses nor children: Siblings receive all the property and holdings.

Life moves quickly. But writing a will needs to be a top priority, especially if you are of advanced age. Consider the consequences of not writing a will. You want your estate to do the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people. You want to provide for your family and loved ones. Perhaps, you want to donate to charities, foundations and organizations. A last will and living testament settles matters for all involved.