New York Estate Planning requires the consideration of many different topics. To begin with, knowing the nature and value of one’s assets is imperative. Some assets such as joint bank accounts will pass to the joint owner by operation of law. Assets held in the name of the decedent or creator of a trust may be available for distribution pursuant to the terms of the Will or Trust instrument.
Great consideration should also be given to the beneficiaries who are to benefit from the estate plan. Not only is the identity of the primary beneficiaries important, the allocation of shares among the beneficiaries, as well as the selection of alternate beneficiaries, should be reviewed.
The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has previously discussed that a spouse cannot be disinherited and is entitled to obtain a share of the other spouse’s estate. However, there is no prohibition in New York law from disinheriting any other family member, such as children. It was recently reported in Entertainment News that film star Jackie Chan intends to disinherit his son and donate his assets to charity.
Another consideration is the selection of a fiduciary such as an Executor or Trustee. The selection of a fiduciary involves placing long-term confidence in someone who is expected to carry out a person’s wishes and intentions. Alternative or successor fiduciaries should also be designated. The selection of fiduciaries who are not trustworthy can ruin the best estate plan. As recently reported by Paul Lamoureux in The Docket on March 28, 2011, trust funds donated by founding father John Adams were negligently managed by the city of Quincy, Massachusetts.
New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to Wills and estate settlement throughout New York City including Manhattan and Queens. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.