Estate planning is an important part of getting your affairs in order, but it can seem overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. Having a comprehensive estate planning checklist can help guide you through the process of preparing critical legal documents like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney to protect your family. This article will provide an estate planning checklist tailored specifically for New York residents.
An estate plan ensures your wishes regarding your assets and medical care are carried out when you pass away or if you become incapacitated. It also designates who will make legal, financial, and medical decisions on your behalf if you can’t.
Without these directives in place, the state of New York will determine what happens to your assets, dependents, and healthcare according to its default laws. The probate process will also be more lengthy and expensive without clear instructions.
Creating an estate plan provides peace of mind, assuring your loved ones will be cared for per your desires. It allows you to distribute your assets as desired and minimizes legal hassles for your family.
Follow this checklist to ensure you cover all the basics of estate planning for New York residents:
Your assets include physical possessions like your home, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, art, and other valuables. It also includes intangible assets like your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, pensions, and any real estate you own.
List all your assets and estimate their current values. This helps you determine what assets will be part of your estate.
One of the most important estate planning factors is designating the beneficiaries who will inherit your assets. Be sure to name beneficiaries for your bank accounts, investments, life insurance policies, and retirement accounts. You can also name a residuary beneficiary in your will to inherit any leftover assets.
If you have minor children, you’ll also want to designate a guardian to care for them in your will.
Common estate planning documents include:
- Last will and testament: Methods how you want your assets distributed and names an executor to carry out your wishes
- Revocable living trust: Avoids probate and speeds up asset distribution to your heirs
- Financial power of attorney: Names someone to make financial decisions if you become incapacitated
- Health care proxy: Appoints an individual to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you cannot do so.
- Living will: Provides instructions for end-of-life medical care.
Consider which of these directives are right for your situation.
New York imposes an estate tax on estates valued at over $5.93 million in 2023. There is no inheritance tax. Seeking advice from an estate planning lawyer can assist in minimizing estate taxes.
If your estate is relatively simple, an online legal service like Trust & Will can help you create an affordable customized estate plan. If your needs are more complex, hiring an estate planning attorney is wise. Look for an attorney experienced in New York estate law.
Once your estate planning documents are complete, store the originals in a safe but accessible space. Share copies with your named agents and beneficiaries.
Review your documents every few years and when major life events occur to keep your plan current. Online services make updates easy.
The right estate plan for your situation in New York will:
- Distribute your assets according to your wishes: Your beneficiaries will inherit what you want them to in the manner you choose.
- Appoint trusted people to make decisions for you: Your financial, legal, and medical care will be handled by those you select if you become incapacitated.
- Minimize family disputes: Your beneficiaries will know exactly what you want them to receive, avoiding conflict.
- Provide for dependent care: You can ensure any dependents or pets are provided for.
- Reduce taxes and fees: Effective planning minimizes estate taxes and probate costs.
- Give you peace of mind: You’ll know you planned ahead properly to care for your loved ones.
While estate planning may initially seem intimidating, following this checklist will ensure you cover the key steps for New York residents. Creating these important legal documents now saves your family significant time, money, and distress later on. With a plan guided by your wishes, you can rest easy knowing your affairs are in order.
Planning for the future is so important for your loved ones, but it’s easy to put off estate planning. Creating a comprehensive estate plan may seem daunting, but the attorneys at The Browne Firm in New York are here to guide you through the process. Don’t leave your family’s future uncertain. They will ensure you have the right documents in place to protect your loved ones.