An estate plan can be beneficial to anyone who lives in New York, regardless of their age or level of wealth. The first step in the process is to create an inventory of assets that may need to be transferred upon passing. These assets could include life insurance policies, the title to a car or the title to a home.
Next, it is a good idea to appoint an agent to look over finances or make medical decisions. This person would gain the authority to pay bills or review a treatment plan in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated. Unless an asset is owned jointly, a spouse will not be able to sell that asset without getting approval ahead of time.
The use of beneficiary designations and a living trust can facilitate the transfer of assets without the need for probate. Such documents can also dictate who becomes the guardian of a minor child. Avoiding probate can be ideal because it is expensive and can strain relationships between family members.
Beneficiary designations are typically used for retirement and brokerage accounts. They can also be used to transfer title to a car or home. The living trust will stipulate what happens to an asset that doesn't have a beneficiary designation attached to it.
Creating an estate plan can help prevent family disputes or other problems from arising after an individual passes on. It may also stop disputes from occurring if the estate owner becomes incapacitated. An attorney could help an individual create a will, trust or other plan document. Working with a legal representative may also be appropriate when reviewing existing plan documents. It's important to remember that even small errors in how a document is structured could make it invalid.