Planning a New York estate is an ongoing process. There are always various matters to be considered. Many aspects in a person’s life change over time. The nature and value of assets may fluctuate. Also, the identity of the beneficiaries can vary. There can be new potential beneficiaries such as a new spouse, or children or grandchildren; or a person’s intentions regarding naming fiduciaries may require amending old estate planning papers. Whatever the reason, the start of a New Year is as good a time as any to think about and implement necessary changes.
Each individual has a plan that is unique to his own situation. Documents that should be considered include a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust.
A recent article written by Jamie P. Hopkins, Esq., appearing at Kiplinger.com on December 3, 2019 entitled “10 Common Estate Planning Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)”, provides a good summary of areas that should be considered. The first area covered is entitled “Not having a real plan in place.” This topic is particularly important because without any plan, a person cannot control the disposition of his estate. When a person dies without a Will, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1 directs how the intestate estate is to be paid out. It is much better to have estate planning papers specifically state which beneficiaries are to receive assets than to leave the decision to New York estate law. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles regarding estate administration and Wills.
One item that was not mentioned in the Kiplinger article is that a person should not only consider naming beneficiaries in a Will or on other asset documents, but that it is important to think about alternate beneficiaries if the primary beneficiary is pre-deceased. Sometimes the hardest decision is to determine who substitute beneficiaries or executors or trustees should be if the main persons selected are not available.
As can be seen from the Kiplinger article, there are many facets to figuring out an estate plan. When planning is not done or not completed, the result could be delay in estate settlement or estate litigation in the Surrogate’s Court. It is also important to examine whether the assets are owned in a person’s individual name or whether the ownership is in joint names or with a designated beneficiary. The ownership will determine how the assets will be disposed of in connection with the estate plan.
As an Estate Lawyer in New York, I have represented clients with establishing their estate plan and implementing Probate and other court proceedings to fulfill their desires. While the process can be complicated at times, there more preparation that is utilized, the better the chances that a person’s intentions will be successfully carried out. Call me now for a free review regarding your estate plan or an estate settlement matter. We provide reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.
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 the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Suffolk County. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.