Importance of Having a Last Will and Testament

There are many excuses made for not writing a will: you don’t have enough resources for it to matter, your family already knows your wishes or you’re just too young to need one. In fact, a last will and testament (“Will”) is one of the most important documents any person can have, for a number of reasons, listed below.

Children

While a family member may have verbally agreed to raise your children in the event of your death, such arrangements are not legally binding. A will legally stipulates your wishes concerning the fate of your children. This protects children from becoming embroiled in custody hearings at a time of great trauma for them.

Stress of Property Division

A death in the family is always stressful, no matter the age and no matter how well the family might normally function. You may not value your belongings, but relatives might, whether for financial or sentimental reasons. Disputes over inheritance can cause deep rifts in families. Clearly determining division of funds and important pieces of property can save your family from unneeded stress.

Moreover, without a will, the state may step in and determine inheritance, adding another layer of complexity to the situation.

Moving Between States

Laws concerning wills vary from state to state. If you no longer reside in the state in which you wrote your will, investigate whether you need to make adjustments to it.

The Unforeseen

While most people today live many years as a senior citizen, tragedy does befall a minority. Catastrophic medical issues can strike anyone at any time. Moreover, there’s also the possibility of accidents.

Many people wait until death is a more immediate threat before writing a will. But death does not always give warning. Moreover, mental incompetence, caused by severe strokes, dementia, brain tumors and more, precludes a person from signing legal documents, including wills. Waiting until you are ill is a dangerous gamble.

Life Events

A will is not something you create and file away. You should regularly update it so it reflects your current situation. Marriage, divorce, the birth of a child, the purchase of a home and other significant changes to your life are good times to make or revisit a will.

The State will Decide

If you do not have a will, there are laws, called laws of intestacy, which will state how your hard-earned property will be divided, often to those people that you may not even know.

We ensure that our clients are counseled on their options regarding the drafting and signing of their will and assist them with understanding the implications of their decisions.

This article in no way constitutes legal advice of any kind and should not be relied upon as such. If you need legal advice about this or any such matter, you should hire a competent attorney.

About Author

  • Email: mlamagna@hhrls.com
  • Michael LaMagna, LNHA, MPA, JD concentrates in the areas of Medicaid and Advanced Asset Protection Planning, Elder Law, Trusts and Estates, Probate and Probate Litigation, Guardianships, Health Care Regulatory Matters, Nursing Home Placement, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare Appeals, Social Security/SSI Litigation and Special Needs Law. If you have a question for Mr. LaMagna, please call him at (914) 437-5955.