Three Fundamentals of Estate Planning in NY

Estate planning law encompasses drafting of wills, trusts, guardianships and other documents that facilitate the transfer and management of property after death.

In the absence of a plan, the distribution of a loved one’s assets after death can sometimes get very challenging!

As an estate planning law firm, our goal is to help you to get ahead of these challenges by laying out the best possible plan for managing your assets in life and transferring them in death or incapacitation.

Please continue reading to see how Wills, Guardianships, & Trusts form the essentials of any estate plan.



Estate Plan Fundamental #1: Draft a Last Will and Testament

A Will is a legal document used to outline your preferences regarding how your estate should be handled after your death. A will is very important to your heirs as it eases the transfer of property quickly and helps the survivors avoid unfair tax burdens. It is also a way of expressing your deepest sentiments to your loved ones.

Depending on the estate size and preferences, a will can be a simple single-page document or a large detailed volume. A will should describe your estate, the people who will receive specific properties, instructions about care of minors, or disinherit people expected to get the property.

Wills requirements in Brooklyn, New York, state that a testator (the person making the will) should be an adult of sound mind. The will should be written and signed by the testator, unless they are unable to do so in which case, the testator must appoint another person to sign it before a witness, and the signature witnessed.

A will may have legal limitations which may restrict the testator from giving the full effect of their wishes. It’s best to discuss these points with an estate planning attorney directly.

Estate Plan Fundamental #2: Plan for Guardianship

Your estate plan must address the issue of caring for your children in the future in case both parents are deceased (or unfit). Though no one wishes to die and leave their young dependent children, it can happen, and you need to be prepared for this. Your estate planning should include Guardianship provision, which is a legal relationship established by a court of law to give the responsibility of care and protection of minors to someone other than the parents. The court gives legal authority to the appointed guardian to make decisions concerning the child.

In Brooklyn, New York, the guardian must be 18 years and above, and a citizen or legal resident of the United States. Guardianship provisions should be included in your will alongside your other instructions upon death. You can also appoint a guardian for your minors in your will. When you include guardianship provision in your will, you will be at peace knowing that your children will be well taken care of in case of your death.

If you leave out a guardianship provision in your will, or have not established guardianship provisions, a judge will appoint a guardian for your children (without your input). You might imagine, this could end up very messy!

Estate Plan Fundamental #3: Establish a Trust

In estate planning there are several different types of trusts, but at that root they all function is similar ways.  When you establish a trust, you are creating a separate legal entity that you will then transfer some, or all, of your assets to.  When creating the trust, you will decide on a means for distributing the assets and you will designate a beneficiary of that trust.

Sometimes it’s easier to describe something like a trust by giving an example.

John and Kate set up a trust naming themselves as trustees.  They transfer their assets into the trust and still retain access to all the assets they owned before the trust was established).  They designate that upon their passing, the successor trustee will be their daughter Lisa and the assets in the trust shall be disbursed according to their wishes.

If you need other examples, please connect with us and we will walk you through all sorts of different trust types and which one best applies to your situation.

Estate Plan Fundamental #4: Get an Estate Planning Attorney

While estate planning is critical, it is quite complex, and you will likely need an estate planning attorney to help navigate the details and provide you with advice specific to your situation.

We help people just like you create all these documents and more with our support.  Contact us today for assistance.