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Staten Island Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament, commonly referred to as a will, is a legal document in which you state who will get your property after you pass away, who will serve as the guardian for your minor children, and who will serve as the executor of your estate. In the absence of a will, you will lose control of these decisions, and they will be made by New York State. The Staten Island last will and testament lawyers at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience helping clients create wills customized to meet their specific needs and the unique dynamics of their families.

What a will can do

While there are several different types of wills, with any will you can do the following:

  • Designate beneficiaries. In your will you can state who inherit your property. Your beneficiaries can be family members as well as non-family members. In addition, you can leave money or other assets to institutions such as a nonprofit, an educational institution, or a religious institution. In the absence of a will, your property will go to your legal heirs as described in New York’s statute related to intestate succession. Thus, with your will you can disinherit those who might otherwise inherit.
  • Appoint executor. In your will you can state who you want to serve as your executor. Your executor is the person charged with overseeing the settling of your estate and distribution of your assets according to the terms of your will.
  • Designate guardian for your children. Another important thing that you can do is appointment someone to serve as guardian for your children if you pass away while they are still minors.

As a Staten Island last will and testament lawyer will explain, it is important to understand that no all property can be disposed of in a will. Only property that is considered probate property is part of your probate estate. Such property includes: personal property, real estate, cash, bank accounts, investment accounts, and your interest in property that you co-own with others as tenants in common. Property that is not probate property and is disposed of outside of a will and the administration process includes: retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, trusts, insurance policy proceeds, investment accounts with TOD (transfer-on-death) instructions in place, and assets you co-own with others as joint owners with rights of survivorship.


Probate is the process during which your executor winds up your estate and distributes your assets to your beneficiaries based on the instructions in your will. Before assets can be distributed, your executor must inventory your assets and pay your debts. Probate takes at least 7 weeks and often longer.

If property is not part of your probate estate, it is likely to be transferred to the beneficiaries a lot quicker. For example, if your nephew is the beneficiary of your insurance policy while your daughter is the only beneficiary named in your will, the insurance company will mail a check to your nephew without having to go through the often lengthy probate process. However, your daughter will have to wait several months before receiving the property you left her in your will.

To learn more about the steps in probate, contact an experienced last will and testament attorney in Staten Island.

Absence of a will

If you pass away without a will, your assets will go to your heirs based on the rules of intestate succession. In other words, instead of your property being distributed based on a will you wrote, it will be distributed based on a will that New York State writes for you. Your legal heirs include your next of kin. If you are married and/or have children, your property will go to your surviving spouse and children. Otherwise, it will go to other relatives based on a hierarchy as stated in the statute. The best way to retain control over what happens to your assets is to write a will.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

A will is one of the most important documents in your estate plan. Without a will there is no guarantee that your property will go to the people you want to have it. The last will and testament attorneys serving Staten Island at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in complex estate matters including drafting wills, creating trusts, and estate disputes. We will use our expertise to craft an estate planning solution that takes into consideration all relevant factors including your financial circumstances and your family dynamics. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Staten Island, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin