Many people go through life without much thought to how their property will be divided upon their death. People are typically either too busy to deal with the subject or they do not want to deal with it for emotional reasons. However, there are at least two reasons why you should not put off having an experienced estate lawyer complete your Estate Planning, which should include a Will describing how you would like your property divided upon your death.
First, if you do not have a Will, the state will write one for you, applying a process known as intestacy. This process, wherein your survivors divide your assets, can be excruciatingly complicated and expensive.
Second, if you wait until the last minute, such as if you are in the hospital and you think that a handwritten Will completed in the hospital will suffice, a recent case from Long Island proves otherwise. In this case, the deceased had two nurse witnesses to his handwritten Will while he was in the hospital; following his death, however, his surviving sons objected to this Will and the Judge ultimately held that the Will failed to meet the statutory requirements for due execution of the Will. Had the Will been supervised by an attorney, it may have passed muster.
The results of this case offer an abject lesson on why you should not procrastinate the drafting of your Will, and why it is so important to make sure your Will is done by an attorney who concentrates his or her practice in Wills, Trusts and Estates to assure that proper New York Statutory procedure is followed.