Many New Yorkers put off the estate planning process because they think they have too few assets to bother. However, an estate plan is important for all adults who want to have the final say in how their assets will be distributed. It can also appoint people to make health care and financial decisions if the grantor is unable to.
Those who want to prepare an estate plan or review an existing one should start with a list of assets and liabilities and their value. They should think about their aims for the estate plan. This might include choosing guardians, setting aside money for minor children and picking all the beneficiaries.
Some people may want to consider creating trusts as well. Trusts can be versatile vehicles, and they may be revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust leaves the assets in the control of the creator, and it can also be changed. With an irrevocable trust, assets are placed outside of the creator’s control and cannot be changed. Irrevocable trusts may be either simple or complex. Taxes are paid differently depending on which type the trust is.
Estate plans should be reviewed regularly when the creator’s finances shift or when there are changes in the family, such as divorces, marriages, births and deaths. An attorney could help a client with this process. This might include creating a will or a trust as well as a power of attorney for health care. If there is a trust, the creator will also need to appoint one or more trustees. Depending on the complexity of the trust, acting as a trustee may require legal and financial expertise. In these cases, the creator might want to appoint a corporate trustee, such as a bank.