If you are a legal adult, you’re strongly encouraged to have an estate plan. Doing so may help to ensure that your kids can stay in your New York home if you become incapacitated or ensure that your wishes are respected after you pass away. There are a number of steps that you can take to manage your affairs.
Create a will or trust
Perhaps the best way to protect your assets is by creating a will or trust. These documents allow you to determine who your beneficiaries are so that assets don’t go to an estranged parent or sibling. You can also name a guardian for your child in your will. Creating a living trust may be preferable over a will as it takes effect immediately and gives you more control over when assets are distributed and what they can be used for.
Tips for avoiding probate
If your estate planning goals involve avoiding probate, there are several ways to accomplish that mission. First, assets in a trust are held outside of your estate, which means that there is no need for them to be probated. Next, you can attach beneficiary designations to assets such as a life insurance policy or a bank account. When you die, those items will automatically transfer to the person listed on the form.
Ideally, you will treat estate planning as a lifelong process. An estate plan may need to be reviewed or changed after a major life event such as a birth in the family, a death in the family or a change to the tax code. Even if nothing significant happens in your life, you may want to review your plan once a year to ensure that it meets your needs.