Buffalo Estate Planning Attorney Explains What Happens if You Die Without a Will
As an experienced Buffalo Estate Planning Attorney, I often get questions from clients regarding what happens if they die without a will in place. If a person dies without a will, the state of New York has to determine who’s going to take care of your estate. That means they’re going to appoint an administrator and if you haven’t designated someone, the court has to decide who that administrator is going to be. If you have family members who want to act on your behalf and there’s a conflict within the family, the court then has to run a hearing to determine which party is going to be more suitable. If the court decides that there is such a conflict within the family, the court could even appoint a public administrator to act on your behalf or on the behalf of your estate.
So for no other reason, you want to make certain that you have a will in place to make certain that you’re appointing your executor and that the surrogate’s court knows who you trusted in deciding to handle your estate. Besides that, you want to have a will in place in order to make the certain of the court appoints those who are going to take care of your children, called the guardians. Guardians are the individuals with whom your children are going to live with on a daily basis. The trustees who take care of the assets on behalf of the estate, to make certain that the assets are going to be turned over to the children at an appropriate age that you designate rather than the surrogate court decides would be the legal age which is 18 years in New York State.
Many instances, you don’t want your children getting their assets or the estates benefits at the age of 18. I generally recommend an age of 22, because I’d like to get the kids through a 4 year program or college, I’ve had people extend it to 25 or 31, or even older age depending upon the circumstances. There are also situations where you have children who might be disabled and you want to make sure that they are provided for and taken care of for their lifetime, for that matter, and you don’t want the surrogate’s court deciding who’s going to take care of your children, you don’t want the surrogate’s court deciding who’s going to take care of your assets.
If you have questions regarding your will or estate plan, contact our skilled Buffalo Estate Planning Attorneys today for a free consultation.