Why Have a Will?

By Melanie Brisbon

People do not like think about the things Matthew Tollin thinks about – like who will get what when they die.

Tollin, an attorney and managing partner at Tollin Associates and Liberty Legal in Brooklyn, counts probate law among his firm’s practices. Too many people, he says, die without a will.

“People don’t like to think about it because of the morbidity,” he said. “It’s something they don’t deal with on a daily basis but only deal with when they have to.”

Just because you may not have a lot of money doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a will.

“Everyone needs a will,” he said. “You want to be able to give a clear path of succession. There are plenty of tax reasons, even if you aren’t extremely wealthy.”

Dying without a will leaves families to battle over pets, jewelry and heirlooms – even if there isn’t a lot of money. That can leave the state law to determine who receives what.

“At the time of death, there could be a few people that have claims on the various assets,” Tollin said. “Those assets could be things that aren’t there before the person passes- like a life insurance policy.”

Besides, he added, wills are way for people to examine their lives and plan their futures.

“It’s a good exercise in general,” Tollin said.

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