Guess what? If you never get around to doing your Last Will (about 50% of Americans have not done a Last Will), New York State has a Last Will all drafted and ready for you. You don’t even have to approve it or sign it. The New York State Last Will is called the Laws of Intestacy. Most people wish to have more control over who and how their assets are managed than what the state laws provide, and so they draft documents that can override the Laws of Intestacy when those laws do not match their objectives. Are you ready to draft your own will instead of relying on the NYS laws?
The New York State Laws of Intestacy, and most other states’ laws, are modeled after old English laws of inheritance. Inheritance follows strict bloodlines. In many cases that is just fine for traditional families. But families can be far from traditional, especially in the era of blended families, relationships that do not incorporate marriage, or families with disabled or “problem” heirs who would be harmed by an inheritance. There are so many relationships and family varieties and needs. Therefore, the strict bloodline approach does not serve many individual estates well. In addition, when there are serious tax issues, alternate inheritance scenarios may be vital.
To take more control over your estate, you’ll want to have an estate planning attorney create an estate plan drafted to achieve your goals. To do so, you’ll need to start by defining your estate planning objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? For example, is your goal to primarily provide for a surviving spouse and then your descendants and family? Or do you need to reduce your own income taxes now and save on estate and gift taxes later?
Charitable giving may be part of your estate plan. You may wish to provide for children after your spouse or partner and include a trust for your children to receive their inheritance later? Provide for retirement income? Protect assets and beneficiaries from creditors? These special goals are not part of the Law of Intestacy and the state’s will for you.
A review of your estate plan, especially if you haven’t done so in more than three years, will show whether any of your goals have changed. The Grimaldi Yeung Law Group will review your past wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies, beneficiary designation forms, insurance policies, and joint accounts to determine what needs to be changed and update others. You may now want to include your children as executors as they were too young and inexperienced when you did your last will. These are the kind of changes we will review together. It is important you review and revise your will before the onset of the truly older years when levels of incapacity can emerge, making it more difficult and may be impossible to participate in an estate plan. You can lose your capacity to create and sign a Last Will or trust.
Preparing for incapacity is just as important as distributing assets. Who should manage your medical, financial, and legal affairs? Designating someone, or more than one person, to act on your behalf, and making your wishes clear and enforceable with estate planning documents, will give you and your loved ones security. You are ready, and they will be ready to help you if something unexpected occurs.
There are a few more steps if your estate plan needs to be revised:
*Make the plan, based on your goals
*Engage the people, including our firm as your estate planning attorney, to execute the plan
*Have a will be updated, along with other necessary documents
* Re-title assets as needed and complete any changes to beneficiary designations, especially for spouses
* Schedule a review of your estate plan every few years and more frequently if there are large changes to tax laws or your life circumstances
Contact our firm today for assistance.