The COVID-19 Pandemic is a wake-up call for everyone to implement an estate plan, if you do not already have one, or to review your existing estate plan. As a result of the global health crisis, it is critical for you to be prepared in order to protect yourself and your family. A Last Will and Testament is one of the documents that is essential for your comprehensive estate plan.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to control who will inherit your assets upon your death and to appoint someone who you trust to serve as your Executor. Your Executor will administer and distribute your probate estate in accordance with your wishes as stated in the provisions of your Last Will and Testament.
Probate and Non-Probate Assets
It is important to note that the terms of your Last Will and Testament will only govern assets that were solely owned in your name at the time of your death. These assets are known as “Probate Assets”. Assets that you owned at death that have a right of survivorship, beneficiary designation, or are held in trust, will pass by operation of law outside of your Last Will and Testament. These assets are known as “Non-Probate Assets”.
In the event that you die without a Last Will and Testament, you will have died “intestate” and the laws of the State of New York for intestate distribution will govern the assets that were solely owned in your name at the time of your death. Assets that you owned at death that have a right of survivorship, beneficiary designation, or are held in trust, will still pass by operation of law, and remain outside of your intestate estate. The laws of the State of New York will also determine who will serve as your Administrator, based upon an order of priority, for the administration and distribution of your intestate estate.
Seek Advice and Counsel
In order to ensure that you have a valid and enforceable Last Will and Testament, you should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. A Last Will and Testament is one of the most important legal documents in your estate plan because it allows you to control the distribution of your assets upon your death. By consulting with an estate planning attorney, you will have peace of mind knowing that your appointed Executor will distribute your assets to your desired loved ones.
If you do not have a Last Will and Testament, please contact us. At Russo Law Group, P.C., we understand that observing social distancing can make it more difficult to execute a Last Will and Testament and legal documents due to witness and notarization requirements. We can assist you with the remote execution of a Last Will and Testament, remote witnessing and remote notarization, in compliance with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Orders.
It is important when implementing estate planning to consult with and retain experienced attorneys. Russo Law Group, P.C., has knowledgeable attorneys who can provide professional services and advise you. We invite you to take advantage of our comprehensive website as well as our free seminars and webinars to learn more about how Russo Law Group, P.C. may assist you. We have also recommend for your reference the following article from The New York Times, What to Know About Making a Will in the Age of Coronavirus, by Susan B. Garland.