It is never too early to establish a detailed estate plan, and executing your last will and testament is a vital part of ensuring you have adequate arrangements in place for the future. A will can make sure nothing is left to chance and give you peace of mind, from providing for the distribution of your assets to loved ones to establishing the care and oversight of dependents.

A Staten Island wills lawyer could evaluate your estate planning needs and guide you through each stage of establishing a legally binding will that stands the test of time. An experienced elder law attorney can advise and assist throughout the process of establishing a will, as well as other life planning documents, that can provide for your estate, loved ones, and other vital needs that may arise in the future.

Provisions of a Last Will and Testament

The key elements of a last will and testament are the beneficiaries of an individual’s estate and provisions outlining to whom specific assets will be distributed upon the person’s death.

These assets can include both real and personal property. Examples of assets commonly identified in the terms of a will include:

  • Jewelry
  • Vehicles
  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Paintings
  • Real estate
  • Businesses
  • Investments
  • Bank accounts
  • Business interests
  • Insurance policies

In addition to naming beneficiaries, an individual can make arrangements for their minor child or other dependents by appointing a guardian to manage their affairs in the event they pass away before the child reaches legal age. The person can also name an executor in the will who will be responsible for administering the person’s estate upon their death, including paying creditors and distributing assets to named beneficiaries.

A wills lawyer in Staten Island could help an individual determine what other legal structures or provisions, in addition to a will, may be advisable based on the nature and size of the estate involved. These could include the formation of a trust, healthcare proxy, and powers of attorney.

Requirements to Create an Enforceable Will

A Staten Island attorney could help create a will that not only conforms to a person’s unique circumstances and assets but also complies with the state’s requirements for legal enforceability.

To create an enforceable will, the testator (the person making the will) must be a legal adult, which is 18 years of age, and be of sound mind. The will must be in writing; digital-only wills are not enforceable. In addition to being an adult, of sound mind, and executing a written will, the testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of their estate.

When a will does not conform to these standards, it could be deemed legally unenforceable, leading to a range of serious problems for the testator’s loved ones. These could include unintended tax consequences and lengthy court processes like probate that could otherwise have been avoided.

A person’s estate will be distributed according to state intestacy law in the absence of a will when they dies. This process may lead to a result that differs considerably from what they would have wished had they designated beneficiaries in a formal will.

Get Legal Help From a Staten Island Wills Attorney

Preparing your last will and testament can be complicated, mainly because many situations can invalidate or undermine these legal documents. Beyond ensuring your will is legally enforceable, you also need to make certain it contains the full scope of provisions that address your concerns without imposing undue tax burdens or legal issues.

A Staten Island wills lawyer understands the depth of the legal processes involved and the steps to take to structure an estate plan that favors you and your loved ones. Call now to speak with an attorney and receive tailored legal advice for your case.