Estate Planning FAQs

What happens If I die without a Will?

Can I leave assets to a minor in my Will?

What happens If I die without a Will?

If you don’t have a will, the court will appoint a person to administer  your estate, and to distribute the assets in your estate to the  individuals New York State defines as your intestate heirs. If you are  survived by a spouse and children, your estate will be divided among  your spouse and children. In cases where an individual was not married  and had no surviving children, the entire estate will be given to the  individual’s parents if they are surviving, and if not, to the  individual’s siblings (and the surviving children of any predeceased  siblings). If any of these heirs, such as a child, is a minor, the court  will oversee the management and disbursement of the minor’s inheritance  until the minor reaches 18. Additionally, if you are survived by a minor child in need of a guardian, the court will select a guardian for  such child based upon what it believes is in the best interests of the child.

Why do I need a Will?

Can I leave assets to a minor in my Will?

What happens If I die without a Will?

As part of complete estate plan, you need a will to specify who you want to receive the assets in your  estate, and to provide for the management of any such assets that may be  inherited by a minor, disabled individual, or anyone else who may not  be able to handle substantial sums of money. You also need a will to  designate the person you would like to administer your estate (who is  referred to as an executor or a personal representative), and the person  you would like to act as guardian of any minor children.

Can I leave assets to a minor in my Will?

Can I leave assets to a minor in my Will?

Can I select a guardian for my minor children in my Will?

Although you can leave assets to a minor in your will, minors are not legally authorized to manage assets they inherit and thus the court will  strictly oversee the management and distribution of any inheritance  left directly to a minor until the minor reaches age 18. The best way to  provide for minors, or any other person who is unable to properly manage his/her financial affairs, in your will is thus to create a trust  for that person’s benefit in your will. You can direct in your will  that upon your death some or all of your assets are to be distributed to  a trust for the benefit of the person. You can name a trustee in your  will to manage the trust assets, and can authorize the trustee to spend  the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiary to ensure the  beneficiary’s needs are being met. Additionally, the trust does not have  to end when the minor reaches 18, but rather you can specify any age  which must be reached, or any event which must happen before the assets  in the trust are fully released to the beneficiary.

Can I select a guardian for my minor children in my Will?

Can I select a guardian for my minor children in my Will?

Can I select a guardian for my minor children in my Will?

If a minor does not have a living parent capable of acting as guardian,  the court will always appoint a guardian for the minor based on what it  determines is in the best interests of the minor. In your will, however,  you can tell the court who you think would be the best guardian for a  minor child of yours if you were not alive, and the court will strongly  consider your wishes in deciding who to appoint as guardian, unless it  felt honoring your wishes were not in the best interests of your child.  Although you can designate spouses to act as co-guardians of your minor  children, it is not a requirement that both a husband and wife be named  as guardians. Also, although you may choose the same individual to act  as both guardian of your minor children and trustee of a trust for their  benefit, you can name different individuals for these two positions if  you feel doing so would be best for your children. Finally it is a good  idea to designate an alternate guardian in your will in case your first  choice for guardian is unable or unwilling to act as guardian for any  reason.


Do I need a lawyer to write my Will?

Can I select a guardian for my minor children in my Will?

Do I need a lawyer to write my Will?

In order to be valid, the person making the will must be legally  competent, and the will must comply with strict state laws regarding the  manner in which the will is signed and witnessed. If the court does not  recognize the will as being valid, your assets will be distributed as  if you died without a will.

What does an executor do?

Can I select a guardian for my minor children in my Will?

Do I need a lawyer to write my Will?

An executor, also referred to as a personal representative, is the  person that will handle the distribution of your estate on your behalf,  make sure the terms of your will are satisfied and take care of your  debts and expenses. The job involves a significant amount of work and  requires honesty, integrity and diligence. A personal representative, as  well as an alternate personal representative, should be designated in  your will.