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5 Questions Attorneys Will Ask When Drafting a Will on Long Island

Posted on January 29, 2024


Many people put off estate planning and drafting their wills. In most cases, people are simply too busy to think of estate planning. Some wait until they are better established in life, thinking that they either have too few assets to warrant a will or that they are too young to get one. Others are intimidated by the prospect of confronting their mortality and thinking about what will happen once they pass away. 

In 2023 more people are realizing that estate planning is not only something that should be done at the later stages of life but rather something that should be done as soon as possible.

But estate planning and drafting a will isn’t something that can be done quickly or easily. Estate planning when done right is a process and a qualified attorney can help ensure your plan reflects your wishes.  Before you start the process, it may be helpful to understand what kind of questions a Long Island estate planning attorney will ask. The 5 questions we discuss in this article can give you a good idea of the kind of questions your lawyer may ask when drafting a will in either Nassau County or Suffolk County.

What Do You Want To Accomplish With Your Will?

Any competent Long Island estate planning attorney will first ask you about your goals in creating a will. Not all wills are created equal. To better understand your motivations for creating a will, your attorney will need to ask you questions about your particular circumstances. 

You could be drafting a will for the benefit of your minor children, to lessen tax liabilities, to plan for any medical emergencies, and the list goes on. Before going to your estate planning attorney, it would be helpful to consider what purpose you want your will to serve. Your attorney will also be asking additional questions to help them pinpoint the approach they should take when drafting your will.

Although these questions might seem unnecessary, experienced estate planning attorneys ask them to understand how best to help you. An effective will should address your specific needs and concerns and how you answer your attorney’s questions will determine the best path forward.

What Are Your Family Dynamics?

When drafting a will, an attorney will ask questions about your family life and dynamics. As with understanding your goals, asking questions about your home and personal life is something that will help gain insight into what you want your will to accomplish. For instance, an attorney would need to know if you have minor children who would need a guardian if you’ve been divorced and are on good terms with your ex-spouse, or if you have children with special needs. Be prepared to also answer questions about your health and whether or not you have any underlying medical conditions. Your will can also include information about who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to.

All of this information would help your Nassau County or Suffolk County estate planning lawyer to better customize your will to reflect your situation.

What Is Your Financial Situation?

With the information about your goals for the will and with a better understanding of your family dynamics, your attorney will next ask for information about your financial situation. An attorney will ask you questions about your assets and liabilities and which of these you want to pass through your will. 

With a comprehensive view of your finances, your estate planning attorney will be able to determine the size of your estate. People with high-value estates may want to explore different methods to protect their assets. Your attorney could recommend establishing a trust depending on your financial situation. Your estate planning attorney will be able to advise you on whether your estate will owe taxes and what approach to take to avoid any additional expenses.

Where Do You Want Your Assets To Be Distributed?

After you and your attorney have determined which assets you would pass through your will, you will need to determine your beneficiaries and which assets they will inherit. You will also need to make sure to plan for as many contingencies as possible. Should your beneficiaries pass at the same time as you, you will also need to identify a second beneficiary (if you have no natural heirs remaining.) Under New York law, your extended relatives can also inherit your assets at the time of your death. If you want to donate a part of your estate to charity, you can also do so. 

Your estate planning attorney should be able to inform you of who can or cannot inherit your estate directly from your will. An attorney can also set into motion the appropriate methods that will allow you to pass your assets to people who cannot inherit your assets otherwise.

Who Do You Want To Manage Your Estate?

One of the most important questions your estate lawyer will ask you is: “Who will you assign as the executor of your will?” You will need to choose someone who shares your values and knows your goals with your estate but who doesn’t have a conflict of interest in managing your assets.

It is also essential to inform and discuss your will with your chosen executor to make sure that they understand their roles and responsibilities. 

By drafting your will with a qualified estate planning lawyer, you feel confident that your will is legally binding. Without a legal will, your estate might go into probate which can cause additional expenses and stress to your beneficiaries. A skilled attorney can also be able to spot and avoid costly mistakes before your will is finalized.

Questions Attorneys Will Ask When Drafting a Will on Long Island Purpose
What Do You Want To Accomplish With Your Will? Understand the goals and motivations behind creating the will, and determine the specific needs and concerns.
What Are Your Family Dynamics? Gather information about the family structure, including minor children, divorced spouses, and special needs.
What Is Your Financial Situation? Assess the financial assets and liabilities, determine the estate size, and explore methods to protect assets.
Where Do You Want Your Assets To Be Distributed? Identify beneficiaries, plan for contingencies, and consider charitable donations.
Who Do You Want To Manage Your Estate? Select an executor who aligns with your values, understands your goals, and can effectively manage your assets.

Working With an Experienced Long Island Estate Planning Attorney

Long Island estate planning lawyer Seth Schlessel has helped clients protect their assets and their family’s future. Schlessel Law, PLLC provides services that can help you achieve your estate planning goals. We understand the importance of ensuring that your estate goes to your chosen beneficiaries and that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact us today at (516) 574-9630 to schedule a consultation with Long Island estate planning attorney Seth Schlessel.

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