Wills, Trusts and Estates

Wills, trusts and estate law gives you the power to make a plan to decide who will receive your money and property after you die. It helps to protect your assets if you become ill, and allows you to choose the people you would like to be in charge of your money and property. It also gives you final say about difficult health and financial decisions that may come up during your life.

Estate planning is where you decide about your personal and financial matters. A will is where your instructions are written down about who gets your money and property when you die and who you would like to distribute your money and property. Estate administration and probate are the court processes which allow people to distribute your money and property. If you have a will that lists who will get your property after your death, there will be a probate of your will after you die. If you do not have a will, it is called dying “intestate.” In that case, your property is given to certain persons under New York’s laws of inheritance. This process is called estate administration.

Another way to manage your money is through a trust. There are many types of trusts, and the one you choose will depend on your needs and the needs of the people you want to share your money and property with.

You can get help managing your money and health decisions using other legal documents, like a power of attorney, healthcare proxy or living will. Older people and people with disabilities also can get help through adult guardianships and Medicaid planning.

Legal Editor: Michael L. Kaplan, March 2015

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service with the help and assistance of volunteer legal editors, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or to substitute for the advice of a lawyer.

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