If you pass on without a will, then your estate–including your art–passes to your next of kin in accordance with state law. For example, in New York, this would ordinarily be your spouse, but if you are single, then it would pass to your children. If you don’t have children, then it would pass to your next nearest relative–which can be an extremely arduous process undertaken by a state administrator. Finally, if the state can’t find a heir to your estate, it willto the state of New York (the state acquires title to your property because it has no owner).
Simply put: don’t be in a position where you are making a donation of your life’s work to the State unless that is your intention. We highly suggest that you inventory your work, and get a will made up.
The following document is an estate planning checklist provided by the American Bar Association that should help you answer basic questions about what you need in order to draft an effective will:
Moreover, while consulting with an attorney in person is highly recommended, there are a number of online resources one can use to complete a will in many jurisdictions. These tools include: