A will is a legal document that specifies how you want your assets distributed after your death. A will is also one way to appoint guardians for your minor children. Without a will, your assets will be in a state of limbo as your estate goes through the probate process. During probate, the courts will look at your assets and determine where they should be distributed.

When you have people in your life that you care about, it is important to have a will in order to ensure that they receive the assets that you want them to have. In addition to your money, wills govern who receives ownership of your home as well as other material goods.

Wills can also stop the court from giving money to members of your family to whom you do not want the money to go, and a will can also help you set aside funds for any beneficiaries until they come of age.

If you already have a will but it has not been updated in a long time, then it is a good idea to call our office. Ideally, you should update your will every time there is a major change in your life, including after the birth of a child or grandchild, a divorce, a death, buying or selling a home or business, or any other situation that changes your financial footprint for good or for bad. Without an accurate, up-to-date will, your beneficiaries could be stuck waiting for a very long time before your assets are distributed.

When you call Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Syracuse or Watertown, we can help guide you through the process of choosing a beneficiary, taking an accounting of your assets, and writing a will that will make the time after your passing as smooth as possible.


A trust is a financial arrangement where a person transfers their own assets out of their name and into a trust, which is managed by a third party. This third party (the trustee) acts in accordance with the instructions set in place during the formation of the trust as they hold and distribute the assets of the trust to the named beneficiaries. Trusts may be a good option for people who wish to limit their own liabilities while they are still alive, and it may be a good option for people who want to avoid probate altogether.

Your unique needs and financial situation requires a unique trust, which is where Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts can help. Our attorney has helped many people create trusts that were right for their lives. With our assistance, it is possible to exert as much control over your last wishes as you want.

Contact us today to learn more. In addition to trusts and wills, our firm can also assist you with Medicaid applications, elder law emergencies, and other forms of asset protection.

What Happens If I Don’t Have A Will Or Trust?

According Forbes.com (Ashlee Ebeling, 03/01/10), 65 percent of Americans have no will or estate plan in place when they die. That is why every state has what is called an Intestacy Statute. In short, if you don’t make a plan, the state has one for you.

If you are part of that 65 percent, what happens to your property when you die? Usually, your spouse or loved one will decide that an estate administration needs to be opened. This usually involves hiring an attorney. A Petition for Administration must then be filed with the court. In some courts, a Family Tree will need to be included along with a list of assets. The person seeking to be an administrator may be required to purchase a bond from an insurance company. They must notify all of the legal heirs of the deceased and ask them to sign a waiver consenting to them being named the Administrator of the Estate.

If no one contests them being named Administrator, the judge will issue an Order, called Letters of Administration, authorizing them to handle the estate. If they fail to sign the stipulation, at least one court appearance will be necessary. The problem with relying on New York’s plan is that it may not fit your family.

It might give money to people who will squander it, including:

  • Children with drug or alcohol issues.
  • A child facing bankruptcy, a lawsuit, or divorce.
  • A minor child who is simply too young to handle it.
  • A spouse in a nursing home.
  • A spouse who may remarry.

In each of those cases, all of the money that you spent a lifetime saving could be gone in a flash. For parents of minor children, having no plan can be especially problematic, because the only way to name a guardian for their children is in a will.

Learn all about wills and why it’s important to keep them updated in this video. Contact us at Safe Harbor Wills & Trusts in Syracuse and Watertown if you need a will.

If you need help navigating the will or trust process, please call us.