Many people think that estate planning is only for the affluent or the elderly. Not so. Every family can benefit from having an estate plan of their own, and having it designed by an attorney who focuses on this area of the law. For example, even young adults should have a power of attorney and health care proxy. Unexpected, incapacitating accidents and illnesses can occur at any time. Once our children reach 18 years of age, we no longer have the right to make their life and medical decisions. If they do not have a health care proxy and a power of attorney, we may well need to go to court to try to direct their care if they become incapacitated. This can be costly, take a long time and result in an undesired outcome. Recent, high profile legal battles among family members over an incapacitated adult demonstrate the importance of a health care proxy, power of attorney and living will. These documents can spare a family additional heartache when a serious illness or accident occurs to an adult of any age.
Parents spend countless hours providing and preparing for their children’s futures. Yet, one of the most important ways to protect your children is to determine who will care for them if the worst should happen. All parents of minor children should have a will in order to designate who will be the guardian of their children if something happens to them. Parents know better than the courts what their children need and who is best suited to address those needs. Designating a guardian of minor children in a will provides peace of mind and can also preempt family disputes about who should become the guardian.
In addition, married couples, parents and all other adults with assets need to plan for the distribution of their assets after they pass away. Without an estate plan of your own, the Surrogates Court will impose a statutory plan for the distribution of the assets in your estate. Frequently, the statutory plan is not what you would have wanted and not what some of your loved ones need. Nor does the statutory plan address issues such as estate planning, privacy and the efficient distribution of assets. By drafting a will, revocable trust, irrevocable trust or other device, you can give what you want, to whom you want, in the manner you want.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney in White Plains, New York today to discuss your particular estate planning concerns and goals.
Do I need a lawyer to make a will?
There are disadvantages to using pre-printed will forms and online will drafting tools instead of hiring a lawyer. The money you save now may not be saved at all. With a do-it-yourself will:
- Who will see that execution of Will was properly done?
- Who will be able to testify if necessary that the testator was not unduly influenced in writing the Will?
- Who will be able to testify that the Will was made while the testator was competent?
- Who can explain will terms and concepts to the extent necessary for you to understand the options available to create the best estate plan for you?
- Who will help you plan in detail how to provide for family members with special needs?
- Who will alert you when there are changes to the law that impact your estate plan?
What are some of the things that can be accomplished with a trust?
- Provide money to a family member who has special needs without jeopardizing their government benefits
- Provide money to a family member as an income stream to protect the principal from creditors, ex-spouses or the family member’s own inability to handle money
- Transfer assets to family members without having to probate an estate
- Provide strategies for avoiding or limiting estate taxes
I have a Trust. Do I need a Will also?
It is a good idea to have a will even if you already have a trust. There may be assets in your estate that were never added to the trust, either due to an oversight or because the assets were acquired after the trust was created and no one remembered to move them into the trust. Without a will, assets that are outside of the trust at your death will pass by the state’s rules of inheritance if you do not have a will. In a situation like this, the people who share in your estate may be people that you did not wish to receive your property at all, or they may receive it in percentages that are different than you would have wanted. If there are no assets in your estate when you pass away because everything was indeed transferred into the trust, the will need not be probated.