There are legions of articles and information postings explaining the benefits of having an Estate Plan. New York Estate Planning, as well as planning in all other states, requires that an individual take the time and consideration to develop the precise manner in which assets, financial affairs and personal matters can be handled in the event of death or incapacity.
However, despite all of the pronouncements and guidance that is offered, New York Estate Lawyers know that a lack of estate planning or an ineffective plan is often the rule rather than the exception. In a recent post by Russ Rankin at churchexecutive.com entitled "Survey: Most SBC pastors not prepared to die", it was reported that almost 40 percent of pastors in the Southern Baptist Convention have no estate planning documents. It appears that this lack of planning is remarkable since members of the clergy would seemingly interact with parishioners on a day to day basis who face the personal hardships of having to deal with the death and incapacity of family members and friends.
The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed Estate Planning Documents in many posts. These documents include a Last Will, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, General Power of Attorney and Living Trust. When creating an estate plan, an individual should consult with a legal advisor to determine which documents are most suited to his circumstances. Specific provisions and beneficiary designations in a Last Will or Trust, as well as other documents, may need to be crafted to deal with particular circumstances and to insure that a person's intentions are carried out without confusion or delay.
Interestingly, in Mr. Rankin's article, the author notes that over half of the pastors believed that when a person dies intestate (without a Will), the decedent's family determines what happens to the deceased person's assets. The fact is in New York, like most states, when a person dies intestate New York law determines the persons who inherit the estate. These persons are called distributees (i.e., next of kin) and the order of priority of inheritance is set out in New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1. Also, typically an Administrator will be appointed from this group of distributees after a petition is filed with the Surrogate's Court in New York.
Since it is always best to create an estate plan, which includes naming one's Executors and Trustees rather than leaving their selection to an artificial state law, steps should be taken to put a plan in place and to update the plan periodically.