Do you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night from a nightmare about not having a Will? If so, you may want to consult with a therapist or maybe even a dream interpreter. It’s possible that there’s something else going on there. All kidding aside, even for those of you who are not having strange dreams about not having a Will, it’s worth considering what would happen if you were to pass away without one. In New York state, when a person dies without a Will, their probate assets (i.e. assets that are not immediately payable on death such as life insurance policies or investment accounts with designated beneficiaries) will be inherited by their distributees. Distributees are the people who the law considers to be your closest relatives. For instance, if you are married without children, your spouse is your sole distributee. If you are married with children, your spouse and children are your distributees. This means that if you die without a Will, your assets may be split between your spouse and children, which may not be the outcome you desire. Many couples wish for their assets to go to their surviving spouse and then to their children when the surviving spouse passes away. Some individuals may want to leave a portion of their estate to a non-distributee such as a close friend or charity. The point is, if you don’t have a Will, your assets will be distributed in a way that may not align with your wishes.
Furthermore, if you pass away without a Will, there will be uncertainty about who should manage your estate. This could lead to conflict among family members and additional costs and delays. There are also other reasons to consider creating a Will, such as to establish a trust or other arrangements for the management of assets left for a minor or young adult, to ensure that a disabled beneficiary does not lose government benefits from an outright inheritance, or to arrange for the care of your pets.
If you need some answers as to why you’re dreaming about not having a Will, a good therapist may be your best bet. If you simply want to talk about why doing a Will may be a good idea for you, consider consulting with an experienced trusts and estates attorney