Estate Planning FAQ
- What is estate planning and what issues should be addressed?
- What exactly is a Will and what purpose does it serve?
- Do I really need a Will?
- I am married and have two young children. All of my assets are in joint names with my spouse. Is there any reason for me to have a Will at the present time?
- Can I prepare my estate planning documents on my own using forms found on the internet or otherwise coming to me attention?
What is estate planning and what issues should be addressed?
Simply stated, estate planning is the process where consideration is given to making sure that a person’s assets are distributed in accordance with the person’s wishes, in such a manner that will ensure that the value of the assets received by the person’s beneficiaries is maximized by the reduction or elimination of estate taxes and other costs and expenses arising after a person’s death. Consideration should be given, first and foremost, to the person’s wishes and desires as to the ultimate disposition of the person’s property and how best to ensure that the intended beneficiaries receive those assets unreduced by estate taxes and expenses to the greatest extent permitted by law.
What exactly is a Will and what purpose does it serve?
Will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is the legal document that disposes of certain assets owned by a person after that person’s death. The Will does not dispose of all assets that a person owns. The Will only disposes of assets that are titled in the person’s sole individual name at the time of death. Other assets, such as property owned in joint names with right of survivorship with another person at the time of death, assets with a designated beneficiary (such as life insurance proceeds, retirement plans, pensions, profit sharing plans, 401(k) plans or IRAs) and assets in trusts pass outside of the Will to the person who is the joint owner, designated beneficiary or beneficiary of the trust.
Do I really need a Will?
Many people answer this question with a “no” for reasons they feel (or convince themselves) are valid or because they feel that the preparation of a Will can be easily put off to some (usually unspecified) time in the future.
The fact of the matter is that for different reasons almost everyone should have a Last Will and Testament setting forth the person’s current wishes and desires with regard to the disposition of their estate. The Will should also appoint a fiduciary to manage and administer the estate as well as a guardian for any minor children. It should be prepared by and executed under the supervision of an experienced attorney, because failure to follow statutory requirements can invalidate the Will. If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed under the terms of your state’s “intestate succession” laws. That means that your money and property could end up with family members you haven’t spoken to in years.
It is very important to give serious consideration to contacting an experienced attorney to have a Will drafted. This attorney can assist you with preparing the Will and guiding you in estate planning issues in order to ensure that your assets can be passed on to your loved ones in the most efficient manner and at the lowest cost, including the minimization of estate taxes. Also, an experienced attorney can assist you with updating your Will as well to reflect major life events, such as a divorce, birth of a child, or if you happen to move to another state.
Having a Will prepared and/or updated by your attorney is not only the prudent and responsible thing to do, regardless of age or circumstance, but one that will leave you with peace of mind, before you remain at peace forever.
I am married and have two young children. All of my assets are in joint names with my spouse. Is there any reason for me to have a Will at the present time?
Yes. In your instance, two very good reasons, namely your two young children! Even if you do not own any assets solely in your name that would require a Will to transfer ownership to your loved ones, a Will can also serve as a critical estate planning tool for someone with minor children. A Will gives you the opportunity to appoint a Guardian for any minor child that may survive you and your spouse. If you do not take advantage of this opportunity, a Guardian will be appointed by a Judge who does not have to benefit of knowing you, your family, or the family’s needs and who may very well wind up appointing someone that would not even be considered by you to undertake this important role.
Can I prepare my estate planning documents on my own using forms found on the internet or otherwise coming to me attention?
It is possible for you to do so but it is strongly suggested that you do not attempt to do this on your own. The forms that are available on the internet will, invariably, need to have some provisions either modified, deleted or added in order for them to carry out your desires in the most efficient and economical manner possible when it comes to minimizing or eliminating estate taxes and other estate expenses and to ensure that they conform to the requirements of New York State law. Documents prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney will provide you with the greatest chance of ensuring that your wishes will be carried out as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.
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Introduction to Article 81 of the Mental Health Law: Understanding Guardianship Proceedings – May 21, 2013
Presenter: Jennifer J. Corcoran, Esq. Date: May 21, 2013 Time: 6:00-7:00 p.m. Skills: 1 CLE Credit Hour Click here to view Jennifer’s biography. Unable to join us in Albany? Join us online via webconference. *Please note that newly admitted attorneys …
Presenter: Tully Rinckey PLLC Estate Planning attorney Time: 6:00-8:30 p.m. (half-hour break in the middle) Credits: 1 – Ethics and Professionalism RSVP is required as light fare and nonalcoholic drinks will be provided.
Date: March 12, 2008 Time: 5:30 pm Location: Holiday Inn, 946 New Loudon Road, Albany NY 12110 More Info: (518) 218-7100