While estate planning can sometimes be a difficult subject to broach, it is often one of the most important conversations for a family to have. Estate plans are not just for wealthy individuals.
Instead, estate plans are varied and nuanced and can help address a variety of needs. For most families, a well-drafted, tailored estate plan can not only create a plan to distribute assets but can also protect the family’s physical and financial health.
Most people have strong preferences for how they want their assets divided, even if they aren’t recorded. A comprehensive estate plan, can ensure that these preferences are honored. Without making your intentions clear, your assets will be distributed based on New York’s intestacy laws.
These laws are general guidelines that the state’s courts will defer to if there are no final wishes recorded. These laws will not take into consideration any of your wishes or what may make the most sense for your family’s situation.
For example, if you had a child that was a young adult, you may prefer that they receive their money in installments rather than all at once. Without proper documentation, you may not be able to allocate your assets with the care and nuance that you would have liked.
Most people only think about an estate plan with regards to death. However, an estate plan can provide important protection in other circumstances as well.
For example, an accident or unexpected illness may leave you temporarily or permanently incapacitated. As part of an estate plan, you can grant someone power of attorney over your financial affairs. Making this choice while you are still healthy can save your family stress in an event of an emergency.
Furthermore, you would be able to choose who exactly you want to grant this power to. Without this document, state courts will appoint a conservator to oversee your affairs. Even if this person is a loved one, they may not be the individual you would choose to manage them. Likewise, you may also want to draft an advance directive. This document will outline the medical care and treatments you will want if you become ill or incapacitated.
Starting the estate planning process may seem daunting to you. But beginning now can help you retain control over your estate. And it can help you save your beneficiaries and loved ones from confusion and discord in the future.