24 October 2016

Facing Mortality: Do you have a will yet?

I've been writing about the need to have a will and related documentation since my housemate's mother passed away in June of 2014. She had a will and things have gone mostly okay but it is only now that my housemate is ready to close probate.

This is mostly because my housemate has very limited time to work on her mother's estate. It was recently complicated by finding out that not all of the property was transferred to her mother's sole ownership after her mother's husband passed away. It became necessary to find a copy of his will to prove that the deeds and titles should transfer to the estate and then from there to my housemate and her siblings.

All this came to mind when I read an article about an eight-five year-old gay widower who faces eviction due to improperly witnessed will. He and his partner lived together for 50+ years and now due to a will that was not witnessed by two people he stands to lose his home.  The partner's nieces and nephews stand to inherit instead by the laws of New York (which apparently doesn't allow evidence of 'intent' in the case of an invalid will).

Even if you are married and think that you are covered by intestacy laws of your county or state, not having a will means that a court gets to make all of the decisions about where your property goes. In addition, it means that probate can take a lot longer and the costs can eat into anything that was left.

Pay the money up front and get a real will done by a real attorney who specializes in wills and estates. Most will have up-front pricing so the cost will be predictable. It is the last gift you can give your loved ones. Don't leave them a mess to remember you by.

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