Why Everyone Needs a Will (Even if You're Young and Healthy) | Slevin & Slevin, Esqs.
Young? Single? Don’t own a lot of assets? You still need a will. The human brain is, for the most part, incapable of really thinking about our death. We’re hard-wired for survival after all. Death is scary. It’s an unknown. It’s…the end. Whether or not you’ve ever had an existential conversation with others or just yourself, death is inevitable and, you need a will.
What happens if I die without a will? It’s not that big of a deal right? My family knows what I want.
No. Firstly, putting the burden on the survivors of your death to do what you want creates problems stemming from two major assumptions. The first assumption is that your family knows what you want them to do with all your stuff. The second assumption is that they would even be emotionally or mentally capable of making those decisions upon your death. Death does not RSVP to GoogleDoc invites. It is not (typically) something one plans in advance or can alter and adjust. If you don’t have a will, in addition to possibly not having your wishes carried out with regards to your estate, you are also handing a slew of issues and a ton of work to the family that survives you.
What are the Laws of Intestacy?
If you die without a will, your estate passes through the laws of intestacy. The laws of intestacy are to an estate like a ‘one size fits all’ is to baseball hats. They’re not customizable, and they hardly ever fit correctly. Have a nephew you want to get your watch collection? They’re out of luck if Uncle Balthazar likes the watches better and he’s the one in charge. Want to give your Aunt Liza your life-size fairy statuary for her eclectic garden? That’s wonderful unless she lives in another state and Aunt Ursula sells them at a garage sale before she can make it into town. You have a collection of furs you want to go to your best buddy and hunting partner? Better put it in writing so Cousin Maleficent doesn’t take them, you know how she likes her furs. Let’s talk for a moment about the extraneous items that may be in your possession upon your passing. Do you really want Mom and Dad going through your ex-files? Your nightstands? Your bathroom drawers? Your collection of half-written poetry books and long-lost love letters to your high school crush? Save them from such potential horrors.
OK, so who would be in charge if I die without a will?
Inevitably, there is always some financial asset that turns up after someone’s death. Without a will, the court will have to appoint an administrator to distribute those assets. This inevitably leads to family fights over who should be in charge. This can create unnecessary animosity between family members. If you had a will appointing someone you trust, they can cash checks, write checks, distribute money, and gift as they see fit and as you have directed them in the will.
If you would like to check out New York State’s intestacy laws for yourself to see how the state would treat your assets in the event of your death, click here. Then, get in touch with us at Slevin & Slevin, Esqs. for your free consultation.