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Financial Fitness & Life Planning

Why do I need a Last Will and Testament?

When you die without a Will, you are said to have died in “intestacy.” The person who administers your estate, (i.e “Administrator”) is appointed by the court. In the case where you are survived by a spouse and children, your spouse has priority to act. If your spouse predeceased you, then all of your children are eligible to serve as the Administrator. Since you have not designated anyone in a Will, it can set the family up for a power struggle, both inside and outside of the Court.
The better solution is to name an Executor in your Will. Give some careful thought to the person you appoint. They should exhibit honesty, integrity and have the ability and wherewithal to get the job done. The oldest child is not necessarily the best choice. If all of your assets are jointly owned, there will be no need to administer an estate. The joint owner will inherit by virtue of the joint tenancy. This is not the case where you may own some assets in your name alone. For instance, if you own assets in your own name with no named beneficiaries, such assets will not pass directly to your spouse. Your wife is entitled to the first fifty thousand ($50,000.00) dollars and then ½ of the balance of the estate. The other ½ of the estate would go to your children in equal shares. This can cause a problem in a second marriage where the children from the first marriage are not on good terms with your spouse. You must give thought to what assets you have, in whose name they are titled, and who will inherit if you die without a will.
Kim Smith can be reached at (631)941-3434 or by writing to her at: Ksmith@burnersmith.com 

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