Schwartz, Fang & Keating, P.C., based on Long Island, NY with offices in Manhattan and New Jersey, has collective decades worth of experience in the drafting of wills. While many people know that it is typically imperative they draft a will, most don’t know exactly what a will is or how it works. At our practice, we pride ourselves on our compassion and professionalism that should accompany the drafting of any will.
A Will, commonly referred to as a “last will and testament,” is a legal document that declares your final wishes following your passing. Once it is drafted and the declarer has passed, the will is read in a county court. The county court then ensures that your will is properly executed, and that your final wishes are carried out to your specifications in a process known as probate. Without proper estate planning, the execution of a will can become a muddled and exhausting legal process, but with proper drafting and attention, can be a relatively easy process.
Understanding what wills do and do not do is an important part of understanding what they are. Generally, wills are used to legally declare instructions about what should happen to your property after your death, but they also have many other functions. Wills can also be used to declare executors, or to name legal guardians for children and their property. If, at the time of your passing, you have amounted any debt or have any estate taxes due, a will can instruct the priority and order of payments to be made. It is important, however, to consult your estate planning attorney to see if their are an legal specifications on how these must be paid. Wills also permit the drafter to specify care for any surviving pets, and can be used as a backup to any existing living trusts.
While it is possible to leave and decide the future care of pets, wills should not be used to leave property for your pets to inherit. Also, wills should not be used to decide arrangements for money, property, or assets that have been left through trusts or pay-on-death beneficiaries.
Wills are legal documents, and as such, have legal requirements behind them that must be complied with to have validity in a county court. Wills need to drafted by someone with capacity, which means you need to understand the property you have and what it means to leave it to someone after your death. In the event of mental incapacity, a power of attorney will need to be present to help prepare a will. The will must also be signed by the person preparing it, as well as two witness.
Lawyers also provide legal counsel in the event that you would like to disinherit a spouse or child, or if you are worried that someone might challenge the will, which may prove a stressful experience for any of your survivors. A lawyer will also properly structure the will in the vent that you want to provide money or care for your pets after you’ve passed, as well as what will happen to your property long after you’ve passed. Lawyers can also help you navigate the estate taxes if you are worried about them.