Wills and Probate

Understanding Wills and Probate

In order to ensure that your family and relatives receive their entitled assets after you die, it’s important to draft an iron clad will. A will is a written legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children. In a will, you designate who inherits your estate when you pass away. It’s best to consult a leading Brooklyn law firm, such as Michael P. Kanzer & Associates, P.C.

 

Why You Need a Will

A will allows your beneficiaries to claim the unutilized assets without the state gaining control. Without a will, the state decides the future of your property, money, and who gets to manage your estate. Drafting a will before you die can save your living relatives much financial grief and delay. If there is no will to delegate which family members receive what, the assets may be divided unevenly, neglecting those who may need the funds the most. This could be extremely burdensome to surviving family members

 

Typically, estate litigation occurs when a creditor claims the deceased person owed them money. When someone files a claim and the executor does not agree, the estate litigation process begins. If the claim is valid, the executor must pay the creditor out of the estate assets. However, many times the executor denies the claim, forcing the creditor to petition the court for compensation.

 

Requirements for Executing a Will

For a will to be considered valid, there are five main requirements:

 

  • The will must have been written with testamentary intent. This means that the testator intended to write the will at the time it was executed.
  • The testator, or executor, must have testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity means that the executor understood the nature of making a will, the recipients of the assets, the extent of the property, and the delegation of the assets transcribed in the will.
  • The will must not contain any fraudulent material, mistakes, and it must be executed without duress, or undue influence.
  • Wills must be executed with a proper ceremony.
  • The will must also contain signatures of the testator and at least two witnesses.

The Probate Process

After each will is drafted, it must pass through the probate process. During this formal process, the will is recognized as a legal document, and the court appoints the executor who will be in charge of your estate after you pass away. By going through this process, your nominated executor will be appointed to distribute your assets as directed in the will.

 

Because probate laws are complex, it’s best to consult an experienced attorney at one of the leading Brooklyn law firms to see if probate is necessary for your case. Though many states have worked to simplify the probate process, there may still be reasons for you to avoid it by putting your assets into a living trust. However, instead of attempting to avoid the probate process, it might be more beneficial to minimize other issues that could lead to estate litigation, such as claims brought by heirs.

 

Visit Michael F. Kanzer & Associates, a leading Brooklyn law firm, to learn more about wills and probate, estate litigation, and how to manage your assets. We are always happy to speak with clients regarding their estate. Contact us today to talk to one of our associates and schedule an appointment: 718-769-7200.

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