For most people, estate planning begins with the creation of a Last Will and Testament. That Will then serves as the foundation for their comprehensive estate plan. Creating a Will requires you to make a number of important decisions. Contrary to what many people believe, not all of those decisions relate directly to the disposition of your estate assets. For this reason, it is best to take some time to familiarize yourself with the contents of a basic Will before you sit down to get started on yours. Ideally, you should work closely with an experienced New York estate planning attorney when creating and/or revising any aspect of your estate plan, including your Last Will and Testament. To get you started thinking about the provisions of your Will, however, the following are some of the most common steps involved in creating a Will.
Estate Plan Basics
Despite what many people believe, you do not need to wait until you are a certain age, are married and/or have children, or until you have reached a certain level of financial success in order to need at least a basic estate plan. Everyone over the age of 18 can benefit from an estate plan. You don’t need to have accumulated valuable assets in order to care what happens to the assets you have managed to accumulate. In addition, by Executing a Will you are able to decide who you want to be in charge of handling the probate of your estate should the need arise and, most importantly for parents of minor children, you have the only opportunity available to nominate a Guardian for those children is one is ever needed. As your family and your estate grows, there will be a number of additional reasons to have a comprehensive estate plan in place.
Steps Typically Involved in Creating a Will
When you finally decide to create your Last Will and Testament you will need to take some time to make important decisions relating to your Will before you actually put anything in writing. Making those decisions will likely involve the following steps:
- Evaluate your assets and debts. Before you can decide how to distribute your estate, you need to have a clear picture of the assets and debts that make up that estate. You likely have a general idea of your overall worth and liabilities; however, you should make detailed lists of both debts and assets in order to make sure nothing is overlooked.
- Decide who you wish to provide for in your Will. You undoubtedly know who you wish to leave your estate assets to; however, it helps to write it down and to decide who will receive the largest portion of your estate and who will receive specific bequests, such as family heirlooms.
- Consider who to appoint as Executor. Your Executor will oversee the probate of your estate. The right Executor will help move the process along in an efficient and economical manner whereas the wrong choice can cost your estate money and your beneficiaries time.
- Decide on a Guardian for your minor children. If you have a minor child, or plan to have children in the future, you need to choose a Guardian because your Will is the only official opportunity you have to tell a judge who you would choose to take care of your children if the need ever arises.
- Retain an experienced estate planning attorney to help you. The most common mistake people make – and often the costliest – is deciding to use a Do-It-Yourself Will form instead of working with an experienced New York estate planning attorney. All too often, the time and money you think you are saving by using a Do-It-Yourself form ends up costing your beneficiaries much more in terms of both time and money because Do-It-Yourself forms are notorious for errors and omissions that lead to litigation during the probate process.
If you have questions or concerns relating to creating a Will, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.