The Devil in the Details: Drafting Your Will, Part II


We took an initial look at the considerations you must make when putting your will together in The Devil in the Details, Part I. Here are some more items you must think about:

  • Plan for your beneficiaries future medical needs - Your will should authorize your executor to distribute any social services dependant beneficiary’s bequest under your will into a Supplemental Needs Trust, so that a bequest to such a beneficiary under your will does not disqualify that beneficiary from benefits such as Medicaid, Veterans or SSI benefits which he or she may be receiving, or about to become eligible to receive, at the time of the distribution of that bequest under your will.
  • Letter of Last Instruction – To insure that your specific funeral and burial preferences are carried out you should complete a Letter of Last Instruction which lists your personal wishes as to your burial and funeral services and the distribution of your items of personal property which may have sentimental rather than monetary value.
  • Estate Planning Asset Location Record - You should have an Estate Planning Asset Location Record which you should keep with your other important papers, along with giving copies to your designated executor and attorney.  The asset location record form will assist your designated executor in locating your original will, safe deposit box(es), life insurance policies, assets and other important documents upon your death.
  • Burial Directive – In New York State only a person designated in a written instrument, spouse, domestic partner, child over 18 years old, parent, brother or sister, guardian, grandchild, great-grandchildren, niece or nephew, grandparent, aunt or uncle, first cousin, great-grandchild of grandparents or second cousins (in order of authority) can make your funeral and burial arrangements.  If you do not have a family member in one of those categories only the public administrator of the county in which you resided can make your funeral and burial arrangements.  It is imperative that you complete an Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains form if you do not have a family member in the aforementioned categories or if you want to designate someone to make your funeral and burial arrangements.
  • Family information – You should provide your attorney with your family information, including predeceased family members and family members you are not providing for in your will.  The reason for this is twofold.  First, it evidences that you knew who your family was (the natural objects of your bounty) which is one of the proofs of your competency to execute your will.  Second the information may be of assistance to your executor in locating family members after your death.
  • Review your will periodically — You should review your will, especially at major life changes, such as marriage, divorce, and birth of a child. A review every three years is a good rule to follow.

If you follow these tips and include these details, your New York wills attorney will have no problem drafting an airtight document that will do just what you want it to do.

Posted in Estate Planning | Tagged beneficiaries, future medical needs, will drafting