3 Questions About Wills

Do you need to learn more about wills? Check out these 3 questions about wills, then contact our Buffalo Estate Planning Lawyers for help.

3 Questions About Wills1. What Happens When You Die Without a Will?

  • If a deceased person with no valid will owned assets in their name, those assets are distributed under the laws of intestacy in which the estate’s called an administration. The person in charge, an administrator, has the same powers as an executor. The rules, at least up through distribution, are the same. The administrator collects the assets and pays the bills, and then looks to the law for distribution.
  • If a young person who has only parents dies, their assets go to the parents. If the person has a spouse but no children, it goes to the spouse. If the person has a spouse and children, everything is divided between spouse and children. After that, it goes to other relatives – all the way to first cousins. If you have an extended family, but no children, nieces or nephews, your estate can be given to more distant relatives, including people you have never met.
  • Even worse, a significant amount of your estate may be used up in the process of figuring out who these people are and having a court determine that this remaining family is entitled to your money.

2. What Happens When an Unmarried Partner Dies Without a Will?

  • Unmarried longtime partners face certain challenges when one of them dies because, absent a will or specific provision for the surviving partner, that partner has no legal rights under that estate.
  • It’s very important that people in long-term relationships who choose not to marry create documentation to protect each other, including a will if they want their partner to have their assets.
  • They may also make certain the partner is entitled by putting them on the bank account or showing them as joint owner on a piece of property, ensuring their right to live there.
  • Powers of attorney and healthcare proxies are very important in enabling partners to handle each other’s affairs.
  • If you want your partner to be part of your healthcare process, provisions must be made. You must provide the appropriate documentation to be permitted to talk to doctors and participate in decision making.

3. How Can I Contest a Will?

  • The complexity of the probate process causes many people to ask how they can avoid it.
  • Executing a will at a lawyer’s office ensures that it meets the requirements of a good will. A will must be signed in front of two witnesses by the person making it, and that person must be competent and free of undue influences.
  • Once signed and witnessed, the document purports to be a will, but is designated a valid will only after the surrogate court judge determines that it is valid and appoints the executor in charge.
  • Distributees and/or people who are adversely affected can contest a will. The critical point is to ensure that proper notice is given to all individuals who can contest it based on a few specific grounds.
  • It is very difficult to contest a properly created will where witnesses were present at the signing. Because of that, very few attorney-drawn wills are overturned.

If you have more questions about wills and have read these 3 questions about wills that are commonly asked, please contact our Buffalo Estate Planning Lawyers to schedule a consultation. Let our experience work for you.

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