Planning your estate requires the consideration of many factors. A primary consideration is preparing and executing a Last Will. New York Estate Lawyers are familiar with the basic requirements for creating a valid Will. As set forth in Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 3-2.1 a Will should be in writing; signed at the end by the testator and there should be at least two attesting witnesses.
The dispositions that appear in a Will typically are in the form of bequests of specific property or certain sums or percentages of assets as well as a catch all or residuary clause for the balance of an estate.
There are many aspects involved in preparing a Will which include mapping out the appropriate dispositions and including clauses that might create testamentary trusts, the appointment of executors and trustees and tax provisions to lessen the burden of estate taxes. All of these items should be carefully reviewed by the testator with a professional estate planning advisor so that a person’s intentions for the transfer of his estate are properly formulated and effectuated.Pitfalls from inadequate or poor planning should be avoided. For example, in a recent case decided by the Florida Supreme Court, a testator who used an “E-Z Legal Form” to create her Will ended up leaving a portion of her estate to relatives she apparently had no intention to benefit. As reported on flascblog.com on April 2, 2014 by Jacek Stromski, in a post entitled “E-Zer Said than Done: Court Considers Will Prepared with Commercially Available Form”, the Will form did not contain the typical residuary clause. Therefore, the Court found that property acquired by the decedent after the Will was signed was not controlled by the Will but was to be distributed to the decedent’s nieces as intestate property.
Good planning also requires the consideration of the potential impact of estate and gift taxes. As recently reported by Aslea Ebeling in a post at forbes.com on March 28, 2014, entitled “Minnesota Flip-Flops and Repeals Gift Tax, Leaving One State with Hated Tax”, all states except for Connecticut have done away with the gift tax. There is, however, still a federal gift tax to be considered. Also, New York State recently amended its estate tax statutes to provide for a larger exemption over the current $1,000,000. As reported by Ashlea Ebeling on April 1, 2014 in a post entitled “The New New York Estate Tax Beware a 164% Marginal Rate”, the New York Estate Tax exemption will increase incrementally over the next few years so that as of January 1, 2019 the exemption will equal the Federal estate tax exemption which is projected to be $5.9 million at that time.
New York City estate lawyer, Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years throughout Manhattan and Queens Counties resolve issues relating to estate planning, administration and settlement in New York Probate and Administration proceedings. 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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