Living wills are part of a well balanced estate plan. Those who are considering including these documents within their estate plan often have many questions. Some of the more common are listed below.
While drawing up a plan for your estate is a process within itself, it shouldn't be treated as something that gets signed and stashed away. For many that have put these plans into place, they can be outdated by five years or more and often don't reflect major life events - such as marriage, birth or creating a new business - which would significantly affect the way that the plan is written.
An important part of estate planning is determining who will be in charge of carrying out someone's wishes. In addition to having an executor of their will, people may also want to appoint a trusted individual as an agent under a power of attorney. Depending on how they are set up, a power of attorney may allow someone to make financial decisions for an individual or determine how that person should be cared for when they cannot make their own medical choices.
Increases in the federal estate tax exemption and in tax rates for wealthy individuals have changed the thinking of some estate planners. New York residents should consider a few suggestions when considering how to pass on their property to beneficiaries upon their death.
In some cases, New York residents might want to consider establishing a trust and making it the beneficiary of a life insurance policy. This might help those who have beneficiaries with special needs or that cannot manage money. A spouse or family member still receives money intended for him or her, and trusts in general keep one's wishes private and do not go through the probate process.
Due to the way that applicable laws change, over time the details of a will can be outpaced by the current legal environment. This is especially true when looking at a will through the lens of current tax laws. The goal of anyone who is writing a will should the to transfer as much value from an estate to the next generation, and it's important to think about how new laws can leave the terms of will too dated to serve their expected function.
Onondaga County residents who are looking into estate planning issues may be interested in how to handle a person's debt after death. The answer may change depending on the type of debt and other variables.
New York residents will likely remember Dean Smith for his incredible coaching career that spanned 36 years and included two national championships with the North Carolina Tar Heels. However, recent disclosures indicate that Smith's was also astute in the area of estate planning. Smith bequeathed $200 to approximately 180 of his former players, but it is not his generosity that has drawn praise.
Although some New York couples may equally share in the financial management of a household, in many cases, one partner tends to take primary responsibility for such matters. This can be a challenge with regard to estate planning due to the fact that a disconnected spouse might struggle in taking over such issues after a partner's death. However, a spouse who is aware of the challenges that a partner would face in knowing what to do after their death can enlist the help of an estate planning professional to minimize the difficulties of that transition.
When buying life insurance in New York, it is a good idea to name a beneficiary. Failure to do so could force the proceeds of the policy to go through probate, which may create a situation where creditors have an opportunity to claim some or all of the money. By naming a beneficiary, the owner of the policy knows that the proceeds are passing to the intended recipient. In fact, it may be a good idea to name more than one person as a beneficiary.