Many New York residents have a difficult time thinking about dying. However, failing to plan for what happens after passing can leave heirs and other surviving friends and family members with a lot of questions to answer. It could also lead to squabbles between siblings or others over how assets should be transferred or shared. For example, a beneficiary designation trumps any language in a will or trust.
Stan Lee fans who live in New York may know that the comics creator was involved in some controversy at the end of his life related to his assets. He reported $1.4 million had been stolen from him at one point, and he also had a dispute with his daughter. He signed a notarized document accusing her of befriending men to take advantage of him and later took it back.
For many New York residents, estate planning is a relatively straightforward process. In most cases, individuals will need to make sure that their documents are easy to access and review their beneficiary designations every so often. However, people who have business interests or complicated estates may need more help managing their affairs. Estates may also be harder to manage if an individual experiences cognitive decline.
New York residents who are creating an estate plan might find that while passing on certain assets, such as cash and stocks, is relatively straightforward, dealing with some other types can be far more complex. So-called "hard" or "illiquid" assets such as jewelry, art collections or property might present difficulties regarding value as well as who to leave them to and in what manner.
New York residents should make sure that they have an estate plan consisting of a will and a durable power of attorney. Those who aren't sure of how to create those or other documents should ask for help in doing so. Ideally, individuals who have a complicated estate should create their plan with the help of an attorney. While this may cost more, it will generally mean that a plan is created properly.
Even people who are careful during the estate planning process can overlook certain things. For example, New York estate planners should make sure to avoid common errors such as failing to fill out beneficiary designations. Assets such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts generally have such designations
Some people in New York who are creating an estate plan may want to incorporate philanthropic planning into their estate plan. This can be beneficial to families, can be a good tool for wealth management and can also be a way for a person to create a legacy.
An estate plan can be beneficial in reducing and keeping tax bills to a minimum. However, New York residents and others may benefit from estate planning in other ways as well. For example, it allows a person to organize important documents and other items that may need to be accessed quickly after he or she passes away. These documents may include passwords to digital files, a list of debts or a summary of that person's final wishes.
A well-developed estate plan provides peace of mind and reduces the risk of family disputes. Sometimes, only a simple will is needed to dispose of estate assets. In other cases, however, the estate plan might include trusts, powers of attorney, life insurance policies or other planning instruments. People in New York should keep a few things in mind as they approach their estate plans.
Small business owners living in New York or elsewhere have a strong incentive to create a will. Without one, it may be up to the government to decide who gets control of the business and its assets. This could have unintended consequences such as a spouse inheriting the company even if it isn't in that company's best interest. Furthermore, it is a good idea to have life and disability insurance as part of an estate plan.