The planning of an estate in New York involves a number of basic considerations. Many recent articles in the news have drawn attention to the need for creating an effective plan. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has also published numerous posts regarding the planning and administration of estates.
A recent post by Kelli B. Grant on September 16, 2016 entitled “Don’t Make These Celebrities’ Estate-Planning Blunders” points to a number of basic areas that everyone should review regarding their planning needs. In her article, Ms. Grant reports that even the rich and famous fall victim to even the most basic problems. For example, the article refers to the recent death of the rock star Prince who failed to prepare a Last Will. Ms. Grant lists other notables such as Sonny Bono, Jimi Hendrix and Pablo Picasso who also neglected to memorialize their desires in a Will.In New York, as is most other states, if you do not have a Last Will you are deemed to have died intestate. These types of estate administration cases require that your assets be distributed to your legal distributees (next of kin). Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1 provides the list of priority for estate inheritance.
Most individuals would prefer to specifically designate the persons and the amount of bequests that are to be made in the event of death. However, unless a valid Will or trust is prepared, the disposition is going to be controlled by state statutes.
When Prince recently died I was interviewed by the local New York Fox News television station regarding the implications that would flow from Prince’s failing to have prepared a Will. I explained the issues concerning intestate distribution as well as the difficulty that might be encountered in determining and proving the identity of Prince’s next of kin.
Another area of concern that Ms. Grant pointed to was planning for estate taxes. While the Federal Estate tax exemption for 2016 is $5.45 million dollars, there may be lower exemption levels on the state level. Additionally, while an estate may not appear to be subject to estate taxes, there may be estate assets that the taxing authorities may claim have values that create taxability. As an example, a post by Jimmy Hoover on June 13, 2016 at law360.com entitled “IRS Adds $54M to Michael Jackson Estate’s Value”, points out that the IRS is seeking more than $500 million from the Jackson estate based upon its valuation of the estate assets.
Another item to be considered according to Ms. Grant’s article is to be certain to make detailed bequests of personal property. This may avoid estate litigation between beneficiaries regarding the disposition of tangible property such as furniture, artwork, antiques and family heirlooms.
I have represented many individuals in connection with their estate planning and Surrogate’s Court estate administration. The best actions any individual can take is to plan ahead and understand the assets that they own and clearly set forth in documents such as Wills and Living Trusts the manner in which the assets are to be disposed of. If you have a problem or question regarding estate planning or estate probate, call me now for a free review.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Manhattan and Brooklyn. 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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