There is a whole lot of considerations to make when estate planning. You do not only have to decide where your assets go when you die but also have to make decisions on how best the assets should be transferred, consider what taxes may be imposed on your assets, the ease by which your loved ones can inherit what you leave for them, as well as the management of your estate during incapacity. Taking care of these things requires in-depth planning and pragmatic decision-making, such as an experienced estate planning attorney can provide.
We can help you
Our team of estate planning attorneys in New York 1154 is an expert in taking advantage of New York estate laws to offer you maximum benefits from your estate plan. We offer professional guidance regarding the best ways to bequeath the maximum value of your estate assets without tax liabilities and delays, and prepare you for incapacity so that your wishes are known. Proper estate planning ensures that your voice is heard even when you can’t speak.
Essential estate planning documents we include in your estate plan
Your will contains your last wishes as regards the disbursement of your possession’s after your death. You can name anybody as your beneficiary, including a stranger. When you die, your will immediately goes into effect, and your instructions therein must be strictly adhered to. It therefore is important that you state clearly what you want without being vague or discrepant. Going it alone may prove disastrous when it is later discovered that there are discrepancies in your will, thus throwing your family headlong into confusion and legal technicalities.
Some assets such as IRAs should not be addressed in a will. Such assets pass to the joint owner or designated beneficiary outside probate. Probate is a legal process by which the court validates your will before its instructions are carried out. For a will to be valid, it must:
- Be written by an individual of 18 years or more;
- Be written by an individual of sound mind;
- Contain the signature of the individual;
- Be witnessed by at least two other persons’ who must each sign and acknowledge the presence of the other witness.
If your will is invalid in New York or you do not create one but have assets in your name, only your spouse and children can inherit your wealth under New York intestate succession law.
2. Power of attorney (POA)
A power of attorney is a document in which you appoint an agent, authorizing them to act in your stead during incapacity. A POA is used to prepare for incapacity and so prevent a lengthy guardianship proceeding. Immediately there is incapacity, your agent will take over management of your estate, thus eliminating the risk of financial loss. It also ensures that someone of your choosing who you believe to have the same beliefs as you will become responsible for you.
Many people prefer trusts over wills due to their capacity to avoid probate and minimize tax. A trust is a legal agreement in which a trustee holds assets in trust for a trustor (the trust creator) on behalf of a beneficiary. The assets in the trust take the name of the trust and will pass to the beneficiary outside probate as if they had not belonged to the trustor.
There are basically two types of trusts:
- Revocable living trust — this kind of trust can be terminated or altered at any time by the trustor (trust creator). You can name yourself as the trustee of your own trust and so use the trust assets to your benefit until death, wherein your successor trustee must then manage the assets or transfer them to the beneficiary. Living trusts do not avoid estate taxes.
- Irrevocable trusts — avoids tax liabilities and offers asset protection because the assets held therein are permanently out of your ownership. You cannot be the trustee of your own irrevocable trust.
4. Living will
If you have any wishes concerning what you want done or not done to your body during a terminal condition, we can help you express these wishes in a living will. Not to be confused with a last will, a living will does not address your assets.
An estate planning attorney can bring you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your wishes would be carried out when you pass away, and that your loved ones would not be put into conflicts. Get professional guidance from an estate planning attorney 1154 NY by contacting our law firm today.