How Do I Write My Will?

Recorded March 24, 2021

Attorney Ben Barry of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with WIZN to help explain what you need to know about writing your will in Vermont and New York.

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Joe: 106.7 WIZN. It’s The Cars, “Let’s Go.” Heard Guns N’ Roses, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” before that. Joe Vega taking you through your Wednesday Rocking Ride Home. And I’m joined now by Ben Barry from Martin Harding & Mazzotti. Hello, Ben.

Ben: Hello, Joe.

Joe: So calling you today because it came up in conversation a little bit ago about wills, and it made me think that I don’t have a will. And not that I have a whole lot to leave behind, but if I did die tomorrow or today, God forbid, there are some things that I would want to leave to certain people, and how do I go about doing that?

Ben: Well, generally speaking, Joe, in Vermont a will has to be written, and it has to be witnessed. And so, you could handwrite your own will saying, “I give my watch to my nephew. I give my car to my sister, and all of my clothes to my good friend, you know, Bob.” You could write all that out.

Joe: You wouldn’t want any of my clothes, by the way. You’ve seen my fashion. It’s not pretty.

Ben: I don’t want any, and that’s why I said “Bob.” Because I didn’t want to suggest that I want any of your stuff. But you could write it down. You could handwrite it, and you could have two people witness and attest to the fact that they saw you sign it, or that you’ve said that it was your signature. And that, generally speaking, would be a recognized will in the court which is called surrogate’s court.

And so, I would suggest contacting an attorney because they’re gonna help you go through the process. They’re gonna help you draft the will so that it’s comprehensive, and they will find witnesses and things like that. So the best way to do it I think is to have an attorney do it. They usually will keep a copy of it in their office.

They’ll give you a copy for your firebox, and you let somebody know where that will is so when you pass away, your loved one or the person who’s going to be in charge of seeing that all of your stuff is distributed the way that you wanted it to be distributed, you let them know where that is, and they can find it.

Joe: Does it need to be notarized?

Ben: Generally, it needs to be witnessed.

Joe: Okay. Let’s say I die, and I don’t have a will. Who gets my stuff?

Ben: Basically, the Vermont legislature has established laws, and the New York legislature, and basically every state have laws of intestacy which say if you pass away without a will, you die intestate. And as a result of that, there are laws that will tell whoever’s in charge of your estate exactly where things need to go.

Generally speaking, if you are not married, and you do not have children, your belongings will go to your parents. If your parents are no longer living then it usually will go to your siblings. But each state is a little bit different. But generally speaking, the belongings go down to your heirs, across to your spouse, or up to your parents.

Joe: Okay. Well, thank you for clearing that up. Ben Barry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Thanks for coming on, Ben.

Ben: Joe, thanks for having me.

Joe: Remember, you can call Ben at Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at any time at 1-800-LAW-1010, or go online to 1800law1010.com. All right. Mel Allen’s taking over from here. He’s got music from Mötley Crüe and Def Leppard next.

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