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Why You Should Have a Will

There are few documents that each of us will sign during our lifetimes that are as important as a will. Yet many of us in our busy lives do not take much time to think about the many things that a will makes possible.

Because a will is a statement of how you want your property disposed of after you die, it permits you to direct who will receive all your property. Without a will, property will be distributed according to New York State law with its inflexible rules.

Using a will, you can create trusts that can provide financial security and money management to family members who may need special assistance in handling finances. In addition, your will permits you to designate the persons who will handle your estate, manage any trust and act as guardiansĀ of your children if they are minors.

Through a will, you can assist friends, relatives and charitable institutions which would not receive any portion of your estate under New York State law. In addition, a properly drawn will can minimize estate taxes and other taxes associated with transferring your property to your loved ones.

Most wills are relatively simple and straightforward and can be very inexpensive. In order to get the full benefits of your will, you should spend some time and write down the goals that you would like to accomplish through your will. Once you have thought everything through, you should call your attorney and make an appointment to discuss these matters with him or her. If you do not have your own attorney, check with friends and relatives to see if they can recommend someone for you. After your meeting with the attorney, you should follow through on your plan.

You should also keep in mind the fact that the distribution of your property only begins with your will. Many of us have assets which automatically pass to other people when we die. Examples of these types of assets are life insurance, retirement savings (i.e., pensions, IRA accounts, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans), and joint bank accounts.

When planning the disposition of your property, you should take into account how these types of assets will be distributed and plan your will accordingly. Sometimes, the plan you want to achieve may require you to change the beneficiary designations on these assets.

An estate plan that is well thought out and which includes a will and proper beneficiary designations provides you with piece of mind. It does the same for your family since they know that your wishes have been written down and that carrying them out will be done at the lowest cost possible.

When developing your will and estate plans, consider a bequest to the John Foster Burden Fund, Inc., which will benefit those served on the St. Luke Health Services healthcare campus. Talk to your attorney or contact the Community Relations Department at 342-3166 for more information.