Like most people, you likely understand how important it is to have an estate plan in place. Despite knowing how important it is to have an estate plan in place, you may have yet to create a plan. If so, you are hardly alone. Nearly half of all Americans do not have an estate plan in place. One mistake you do not want to make, however, is to cut corners when you finally do decide to create your estate plan because when it comes to your estate plan, what you don’t know about New York Wills and trusts law could hurt you. Using a “Do-It-Yourself” Last Will and Testament and/or Trust Agreement form that you find online, for example, could be worse than not having an estate plan in place at all due in large part to the fact that these DIY forms do not have the ability to give you legal advice. The lack of advice and knowledge could end up costing you and/or your loved ones a considerable amount of time and money that would not have been lost had you consulted with an experienced New York estate planning attorney.
The Importance of Having an Estate Plan in Place
You have likely been told by well-meaning friends and family that it is important to create an estate plan; however, you may not really understand why it is so important. Understanding why your estate plan is important will help provide the impetus you may need to learn more about the laws that apply to estate planning. Your estate plan is important because it can accomplish a number of important goals, including:
- Distribute your estate assets after you are gone
- Protect and grow your assets while you are alive
- Provide for loved ones when you are gone
- Plan for the possibility of your incapacity
- Provide for a child with special needs
- Ensure that you qualify for Medicaid as a senior to help cover the high cost of long-term care
- Protect your interest in a small business
- Help with retirement planning
- Decrease your estate’s exposure to probate
- Reduce your estate’s tax burden
- Provide for the family pet when you are gone
Understanding New York Wills and Trusts Law
Most people think of a Last Will and Testament when they hear the term “estate planning.” Yes, a Will typically provides the foundation for an estate plan; however, a comprehensive estate plan usually includes additional documents, tools, and strategies aimed at achieving additional goals. A basic Will is essential to avoid dying intestate though because if you die intestate the New York laws of intestate succession will determine what happens to your estate assets. Do you know who would receive your estate assets if you die intestate? For example, are you aware that your spouse would receive more than half of your estate under those laws if you die leaving behind both a spouse and children? Furthermore, did you know that the only opportunity you have to formally tell a judge who you would want to be your child’s Guardian in the event one is ever needed is found in your Last Will and Testament?
A comprehensive estate plan will likely include additional estate planning tools, such as a trust. Trusts have gained in popularity over the last several decades, due in large part to the numerous and varied goals that can be achieved using a trust. Although you may understand the basic concept of a trust, do you know any of the New York laws relating to trusts? For example, did you know that if the trust agreement is silent with regard to whether the trust is revocable or irrevocable, the law considers it to be an irrevocable trust? You could lose assets forever by creating a trust that you intended to be revocable, yet failed to specifically declare to be revocable.
These are but a few of the laws relating to New York Wills and trusts law that could completely derail your estate plan because of your failure to understand the laws. To avoid this possibility, be sure to work closely with an experienced New York estate planning attorney when you create your estate plan.
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have questions or concerns relating to New York Wills and trusts law, contact the experienced estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Kobrick & Moccia by calling 800-295-1917 to schedule your appointment.