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THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A WILL

A Will sets forth a person’s directions with respect to the direction of his or her assets after death. Without a properly executed Will, the laws of intestacy will apply to the distribution of a person’s assets. Many clients assume that the laws of intestacy will suffice. However, the surviving family's situation may require under the law, the delivery of assets to persons whom the deceased did not want to receive any benefits.  A written will can concisely and completely lay direction to the survivors as to how the deceased's wishes can be accomplished without conflicting with any laws.  In other words, a writing is preferable to permitting the law to arbitrarily dictate those who are going to inherit from the deceased.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DIE WITHOUT A WILL?

If you die without a will, the assets in your name will be distributed by a Court-appointed administrator among your family members pursuant to a statutorily fixed priority. The New York State Legislature decided that the rules known as "Distribution Rules of Intestacy" would be preferable in most situations.

IF YOU ARE SURVIVED BY:

  • A spouse and descendants: your spouse takes the first $50,000.00 and one half the balance of the property, and your decendants share the rest.
  • A spouse but no descendants: the spouse takes all
  • Descendants, with no spouse: descendants take all
  • A parent or parents, no spouse, no descendants: your parent or parents take all.
  • Descendants of either parent but none of the closer relatives: the descendants of your parents take all
  • One or more grandparents or their descendants, but none of the closer relatives: half goes to the maternal side and half goes to the paternal (but not including second cousins if you have any first cousins on either side).
  • Where descendants include a mix of generations:  living children take full equal share, and children of a predeceased child then divide equally the combined share of their deceased parent.


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