What is Estate Planning?
Considerations in Estate Planning
Anyone that owns any property or has minor children needs to consider some form of estate planning. Estate planning is the management of a person’s life; namely organizing their assets, planning for their children’s future as well as their own care in case of incapacity, and finally the disposal of their estate when they become deceased.
The first step in estate planning is to identify your personal situation including what you own. Some scenarios are more complex than others. A simple example is owning a house, car, and maybe some investments. If you plan to give all of your assets to one person, that further implies the estate plan. Some more complex estate plans include having multiple beneficiaries, owning property in multiple states or countries, owning a business or multiple businesses, etc.
One must also consider a spouse’s right to inherit property. If a spouse isn’t left at least the amount required by the state statute they can legally claim the amount even if it’s counter to the terms of the estate plan.
The next step in estate planning is choosing your beneficiaries. This process involves communicating, through a legal document, who you wish to receive your property when you die. This typically is a fairly simple process if you already have the beneficiaries in mind. The beneficiary process becomes more difficult when you opt for more complex arrangements such as giving property to organizations or creating and funding a trust. Ultimately, it’s your decision as to who you wish to leave your property to.
Another estate planning facet is providing for any minor children. This includes both finding someone to raise the child(ren) as well as manage them financially. Custody of your children should be planned for. If one parent dies, in most cases, the other will take the role as sole guardian. If both parents die, a “personal guardian” should be nominated. This decision is not binding on a court because children are not property and can’t be willed to someone else, but the Court will take the parent’s wishes into consideration.
One must also consider planning for incapacity because that might come into play. It’s crucial to make arrangements to deal with medical and financial needs if the scenario of incapacitation may arise. Make sure that your wishes are made clear to avoid possible family conflicts in the future.
Estate planning can be as simple or difficult as the scenario requires, but it is highly critical. Everyone with property or minor children should ponder if they could benefit from estate planning. Make sure to discuss your needs with a NYC Estate Planning Lawyer.