A recent survey posted on The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch website found that while Americans believe that estate planning and wills are important, they do not have the documents in place for themselves. Residents of Queens and Brooklyn, particularly those owning homes, should not leave the disposition of their assets and estate settlement to be determined by inheritance statutes.
For New York Estate Planning Lawyers, this seems to be an accurate survey. Most Americans would be able to tell you what a will is and that it is necessary, but many also would probably admit they haven’t made any plans for what will happen to their assets when they die. Because most people consider death a far-off event, they don’t plan today.
And that can be dangerous. New York wills and estate planning is critical because not only does it save your relatives time, money and effort when you die, it ensures that the wealth you spent years accruing doesn’t get swept away in taxes or go to someone other than your desired beneficiary.
According to the survey, which was conducted by EZLaw, 60 percent of Americans believe that all adults should have a will or estate planning documents. But only 44 percent report that they themselves have these documents in place. I have helped many clients with Brooklyn probate matters as well as Queens estate administration. Proper planning is essential to expediting these proceedings.
In contrast to those numbers, 36 percent of Americans with minor children do not believe that wills or estate plans are among the most important documents to have on hand. Rather, adults with minor children in the household rank birth certificates (76 percent), and titles/deeds for property and vehicles (70 percent) as the most important. While parents with minors understand that a court will decide the child’s legal guardian if they die before the child turns 18 and there is no will, only 39 percent have any documents in place for such an event.
Reasons given for not making a will or estate plan a priority vary widely. According to the survey, 37 percent of Americans cite a current focus on “essentials,” such as paying bills and buying groceries, as the top reason they don’t have any estate planning documents. Other reasons cited by survey respondents include:
Not necessary (18 percent).
Too complicated to deal with right now (16 percent).
Too expensive (14 percent).
Belief that their spouse and/or children will automatically receive any assets that they have (13 percent).
Too time consumng (6 percent).
Gender and age also play a factor in the findings, the survey reported. For most Americans, finding money to retire and preserving their health are main priorities rather than protecting their financial assets. Women are more concerned with their weight (47 percent) than protecting their assets (43 percent).
Most disturbing is that parents with minor children haven’t made plans to care for their children in the event of their death. While New York Intestate Laws would dictate that the children receive the assets, they wouldn’t necessarily determine where the child would live. This could spark contentious debate among surviving family members and could be avoided by having documents prepared and filed away. Additionally, more flexibility can be provided if a trust is established for a child rather than relying on the often restrictive Court appointed guardianship rules.
It doesn’t take much to prepare a will and other directives in the event you die. New York Estate and Will Lawyers have done this for many families and individuals and are prepared to help you, too.
New York Probate Attorney Jules M. Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to intestate estates, estate planning, kinship and estate settlement. I have represented clients in these matters throughout New York including Brooklyn and Queens Counties. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.
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