A will (or a will substitute, such as a trust) is necessary in many cases, if only to do contingency planning. Most people know who their primary beneficiaries and executors should be. But they are often stumped about what to do if a primary beneficiary or executor predeceases them. A will forces issues such as these to be considered:
- For persons who are childless, a will is particularly important. The childless sister who loathes her brother will nevertheless leave her estate to him if she has no will.
- How do we deal with a second marriage and children of the first marriage? Do we treat all children — good, bad or indifferent — equally?
- Will an estate become the property of your wife’s second husband? A will can deal with these issues quite easily.
- To protect the spouse in a harmonious marriage, perhaps she should receive a share greater than the default share provided in the New York Estates Powers & Trusts Law.
- If a child dies before a parent, do the grandchildren inherit the share of the predeceased child? In trust? Will the daughter-in-law or son-in-law be trustee for her or his children?
A common use of a will is to place the share of a beneficiary who is too young, or too subject to the influence of another, or too irresponsible with money, into a testamentary trust, which takes effect only upon the death of the person making the will.
Wills are documents expressing one’s deepest values and desires. Contingencies as those mentioned here usually make a will necessary.