Daniel Scheyer, Counselor at Law

 Beyond Your Will (or Trust):

Most of us know that the right  to make a will is one of the cherished freedoms of American law.  If you  neglect to make one, the state legislature will distribute your  property to the people it presumes are your natural objects of bounty.   If you don't have close family relatives, the process can be  a nightmare, unless you take the time to spell out those whom you want  to benefit.

But - even if  you have a will, the Court will require notice to be sent to those who  would take in the absence of your will.  In most families, few people  have a complete idea of who is related to whom.  Once you get beyond  spouse and children, it is very important to draw a family tree - and  spend the time to verify who sits perched on the branches of that tree.   After you have gone, it will be markedly more difficult - and may even  require the services of a professional genealogist to establish  relationships.

         The family tree that the New York courts  use to identify the next of kin follows certain protocols and is  probably best prepared with guidance.  To be effective, the tree should  be supported by relevant documents such as official records of births  and deaths -  or if that is unavailable, even a family bible that has  been contemporaneously kept.

         Finally, let your immediate  beneficiaries  - or your nominated Executor - know what your assets  are, the manner in which they are held, and where information can be  obtained relating to them.  Unless you are really committed to secrecy,  an easy way to handle this is to go over with your loved ones, the items  in your last income tax return.  It is hard for someone who has not  gone through the process, to realize how frightening it is for survivors  to have only a sketchy idea of what the decedent owned.

                  Daniel Scheyer, Esq., 7 Tibbits Lane, Port Washington, NY 11050