Wills Lawyer in New York City and Suffolk County
Only a trust and estates attorney has the knowledge base to draft a tailored, comprehensive Will. Each client’s situation is different and requires a unique estate plan that takes into consideration the difficult decisions surrounding death, inheritance and aging. Our attorneys and staff approach these sensitive subjects with compassion and practicality
What Is a Last Will and Testament?
A Last Will and Testament is a legal document that sets forth how your assets are to be distributed at your death. In a Will, you can choose who will be the beneficiaries of your tangible personal property (books, clothes, furniture, art) and your residuary estate – all your remaining assets such as cash, stocks, and real estate. You name an executor to administer your estate upon your death – bring the petition in the surrogate's court to validate the Will and follow your direction on distributing your assets.
In order for a Will to be validated, it must have been properly executed. In New York, under EPTL 3-1.1, a Will can be executed by anyone at least 18 years old and of “sound mind and memory.” The Will must be in writing, signed by the testator and witnessed by two people who are also at least 18 years old and who are not beneficiaries under the Will.
The testator must have capacity to make a Will, but this does not mean that people suffering from mental or memory defects cannot make a Will. To be of sound mind and memory, the testator must know the extent of their property and recognize who would be the “natural objects” of their bounty.
Without a Will, your assets are strictly distributed according to your state’s intestacy statute – no exceptions. Without a Will your beneficiaries may not be who you expect or want to inherit your assets! For example, many people believe that their spouse automatically inherits everything. However, in the State of New York, if the decedent had children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 of assets held in the decedent’s sole name and half of remaining assets. The remaining half is split between any living children and children of deceased children. This poses problems – especially when there is a closely held business, minor children and children from a previous marriage.
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What can it be used for?
A properly drafted Will not only provides for beneficiaries of your choosing – it can reduce or avoid estate tax, designate a guardian for minor children, create trusts for beneficiaries that protect them from creditors and divorce, name an executor to administer your estate, and make probate easier by dispensing with the need for a bond.
Can it be contested?
Under New York law, a Will can always be challenged by someone who has the legal basis to do so, in what is called a “will contest.” First, anyone contesting a Will must have standing. This means that anyone who would inherit if there had been no will, would have received less under the Will than if there were no Will, or would have inherited more under a previous Will. Second, a Will can only be contested on the following grounds: Will was not executed properly or was subsequently revoked; lack of capacity or a mistake when the Will was made; or the Will is the result of fraud, undue influence, duress, or an insane delusion.
Drafting, Preparation and Consulting
The last will and testament is the end product of in-depth discussions surrounding family dynamics, aging, inheritance, taxes, death and incapacity. Drafting a Will properly involves analyzing what assets will pass through probate as well as non-probate assets which will pass outside of the Will. Probate assets are those held in a client’s sole name, usually bank accounts and single member LLCs. Non-probate assets are those which pass outside of the Will automatically, such as retirement accounts and life insurance. Both types of assets must be considered to construct a comprehensive, clear picture of the estate. Some types of assets may be better suited for certain beneficiaries because of disabilities, personality, needs, and tax consequences. Moreover, failing to consider how each asset passes at death could mean unintended consequences, unfairness and expensive court battles. Having legal counsel to guide you through the Will drafting process is crucial.
Why Work With the Team at Burner Law Group?
Our elder law attorneys have been helping New York seniors and their families navigate the legal landscape for twenty-five years. Our attorneys do not just dabble in elder law, we help shape it through advocating for seniors' rights in Albany and through the bar associations. We have built relationships with assisted living facilities, nursing homes, and home healthcare agencies across Long Island the five boroughs of New York City - that allow us to better serve our clients. As a firm, we care deeply about helping seniors in our community age with dignity and autonomy.
Office Locations in NYC & Long Island
New York City
Serving Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx
45 W 34th St Suite 1203‚
New York‚ NY 10001
Serving Montauk, Amagansett, Shelter Island, Wainscot and Sag Harbor
300 Pantigo Place, Suite 115
East Hampton‚ NY 11937
Serving the Hamptons, Riverhead and the Surrounding Area
82 Main Street,
Westhampton Beach, NY 11978
Serving Babylon, Brookhaven, Huntington, Islip and Smithtown
12 Research Way‚
East Setauket‚ NY 11733
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Contact Our Law Firm
At Burner Law Group, P.C. we pride ourselves on the quality, personal care and attention that we provide to each of our clients. Our entire staff is dedicated to serving our clients. With our commitment to knowing each client, we are confident that we will be able to address all of your needs and provide you with a solution that is right for you.
Mission of Burner Law Group, P.C Team
- To continually build a premier elder law firm that puts the needs of our clients first.
- To encourage each employee to be their personal best, both professionally and personally.
- To be recognized as leaders in our community and a valuable and trusted community resource.