A well thought out estate plan can help you grow and protect your assets during your lifetime, protect you and your loved ones in the event of your incapacity, and provide for those loved ones when you are gone. Despite knowing all the benefits of having a comprehensive estate plan in place, over half of all Americans do not have one. When asked why they have yet to get started on their estate plan, one of the most common answers is that people simply don’t know how to get started on their plan. This should not be a surprising explanation because most estate planning concepts and terms are not familiar to the uninitiated. If you are one of the millions of Americans who has yet to create an estate plan, the Nassau County estate planning lawyers at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia hope you will use the following top five tips to help you get started on your plan.
- Define your needs and goals. Take some time to consider what you need to accomplish and what you want to include in your estate plan. People typically focus on the distribution of their estate assets when they think about estate planning. While this is certainly one aspect of an estate plan, a comprehensive estate plan can accomplish much more than that. For example, if you don’t want your loved ones to have to deal with a lengthy probate of your estate, you could include probate avoidance as an estate planning goal. If you have minor children, protecting their inheritance until they reach the age of majority should be an important part of your plan.
- Make detailed lists of assets and liabilities. You probably have some idea of what your net worth is at any given time; however, for the purpose of estate planning, you need to have a detailed list of assets and debts. You should also include identifying information on your lists, such as account numbers, passwords, or location of an asset so that that information can be included with your estate planning documents, When the time comes, it will make your Executor’s job much easier.
- Do not forget about the possibility of incapacity. One additional component that should be included in all estate plans is incapacity planning. Incapacity can strike anyone at any time as the result of a tragic accident or debilitating illness. If you are the victim of incapacity, who will take over control of your assets? Who will make personal and healthcare decisions for you? If you don’t make a point of deciding yourself within your estate plan, a judge may have to decide for you.
- Choose fiduciary roles wisely. One of the most common – and most damaging – mistakes people make when creating an estate plan is failing to take the time necessary to choose the right person for fiduciary roles within the plan. The role of Trustee is a complex job that requires a degree of financial and legal knowledge and experience to perform well. Appointing the right person will contribute to the success of your overall estate plan. Appointing the wrong person could contribute to the failure of your plan.
- Resist the Do-It-Yourself route. In the 21 century, it is tempting to try and save time and money by downloading estate planning “DIY” forms. Resist this temptation! The time and money you think you are saving will almost always end up costing your loved ones considerably more time and money down the road when the mistakes or ambiguities in your documents end up in litigation. Instead of taking this risk, consult with an experienced New York estate planning attorney to ensure that your estate planning is correct and complete.
Contact Nassau County Estate Planning Lawyers
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns about estate planning, or you wish to get started creating your plan, contact an experienced estate planning attorney at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.