Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Estate Planning
Every individual and family’s estate planning needs are different, and will require a uniquely customized strategy. Whether you are looking to draft a simple will or need to develop an extensive plan, you likely have many questions about the process and what strategy is right for you.
To help clear up some confusion, the Law Office of Amy Posner, has provided answers to some of the most common and important questions about estate planning in New York.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning allows you to protect your assets and remain in control over how your affairs are managed in the event of death or an incapacitating illness. Estate planning also offers a certain level of security to your family because if something tragic does occur, your family will know a plan is in place and that they will be taken care of.
Another important factor of estate planning is that it can significantly reduce the taxes on your estate. This can be a huge benefit for your beneficiaries as well as the executor in charge of managing your estate.
What Do You Include In An Estate Plan?
Estate planning needs will vary for each individual and family. An estate plan may include some, or all of the following legal documents:
- Wills and/or trusts
- Advance health care directives (living will)
- Medicaid trusts
- Health care power of attorney
- Durable power of attorney
- Beneficiary designations
- Guardianship designations (for minor or special needs children)
A well-executed estate plan is essential for avoiding probate and other conflicts within the family. An experienced estate planning and probate lawyer can help you identify your needs and develop a plan to achieve your goals.
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
When a person dies without a will, it is known as dying “intestate.” Like other states, New York has specific intestacy laws that determine how your estate will be administered. The state will typically distribute your assets in an equitable manner to any living heirs (i.e., spouse, children, parents, grandchildren, etc.). If you have no living relatives, your assets will become property of the state of New York.
How Often Should An Estate Plan Be Updated?
The frequency of which an estate plan needs updating will depend on a variety of factors. Most people choose to update their plans when a significant milestone or life event occurs such as:
- Birth of a child or grandchild
- Change in financial situation
- Purchase or sale of property or business
- Relocated to a different state
- Death of a named beneficiary
- Received an inheritance
- Sudden illness
These along with many other life events will warrant the need for an updated plan.
Still Have Estate Planning Questions?
I am attorney Amy Posner, and for over 25 years I have been helping individuals and families in Manhattan and throughout New York develop personalized estate plans to fit their unique needs. I understand how intimidating putting together an estate plan can be, and will work diligently to identify your needs and help you feel confident in making well-informed decisions about your future.