Where There’s a Will…There’s Peace of Mind

Sandy Balick of Consensus Point Mediation LLC (www.consensuspointmediation.com/) talks about the importance of having a Will.The very same wisdom that compels people to resort to divorce and family mediation will serve to guide them to other wise personal actions.

The subject of this post, is your Will (if you answered, “what Will?” definitely read on).

It would be a mistake to regard this subject as something only for older people to worry about (never mind what really is meant by “older”).

If you have property, money, and things, however modest in total, a Will is worth having. It doesn’t take an asteroid strike (in which case we’ll all have problems) to meet an unexpected and early end. Humankind is subject to unpredictable events all the time – which range from winning the lottery on one end of the scale – to untimely death on the other.

Without a Will,  you are deemed to have passed “intestate” and all states have some version of intestacy laws that provide just how your property will pass in the absence of a Will. This is usually to next of kin: wife, followed by your children, surviving parents, siblings, etc. In the event of no relatives,  your property could revert to the state.

Also, states have a process for administering Wills, usually referred to as probate. Where no Will is in place, the court proceedings may entail elements of expense (executor or administrative fees) and time, as the courts process many estates. These considerations may deplete your estate and delay its transfer to appropriate relatives, which may be avoided by means of a properly prepared/executed Will.

Not everyone needs a fancy will. Those with significant assets, children, and other considerations, may have a Will as part of a broader estate planning process. For those with limited property, online and do-it-yourself resources may be sufficient for the time being. All Wills should be reviewed with regularity so they may be revoked and redrafted to reflect changes in your circumstances.

If you don’t know the name of a lawyer who practices in this area, ask friends and relatives if they have someone to recommend based on their experience. Bar Association and online resources may also be helpful in identifying an appropriate professional.

If you have special wishes or if you have a more complicated asset picture, it may be wise to designate someone to be your executor – a person who will carry out your wishes in the course of administering your estate. This individual is designated in your Will.

Some of your property is efficiently passed by means of beneficiary designations (made outside of a Will) as in the case of retirement plans (401Ks, IRAs, etc.). But even here, you may wish to review beneficiary designations from time to time. Real estate is another example of property that will pass by certain legal rules, usually outside the provisions of a Will. The manner in which property is titled is an important consideration in this regard.

As I was completing my edit of this post I heard a very good story on this very topic on NPR’s Morning Edition. Moved by the challenges she experienced in light of her husband’s unexpected passing, Chanel Reynolds founded a website designed to help others avoid the straits she found herself in. The story can be found by clicking here.

Perhaps not the happiest of topics, but there is a certain ease of mind that comes from knowing that your property will be enjoyed as you wish by the individuals you select.

Feel free to ask any questions, to comment, or to request more information in the Comments Box below. Also, please feel free to forward this blog to anyone you know who might be interested in its topic.

Sanford (Sandy) Balick, Attorney & Mediator, NY Sandy Balick signature
Sanford E. Balick, Esq.
Founder & Principal Mediator
Consensus Point Mediation, LLC.

Phone: (646) 340-3434
Email: ConsensusPointLLC@gmail.com
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