Farmers in the Binghamton, New York, area may be considering the many years of hard work they put in and how they would deal with passing their legacies on to their successors. Transferring ownership, sharing management and control, and dividing assets require more than drafting wills and sitting back. The dynamics of each family who is involved in an agricultural business are unique, and looking at succession goals without emotion might be challenging.
Many New York residents have carefully planned estate plans that might not be as legal as they appear. The language used in wills might render them legally unenforceable. Advisers say there are specific practicalities and rules to follow to avoid carefully crafted documents declared invalid, and those rules mainly cover things not to include in wills.
A survey by a senior care resources company recently indicated that more than half of the adults nationwide, including in New York, have not done estate planning. This means that many people die without wills, one of which was the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. Despite knowing that she had a severe illness, she failed to make sure that her affairs were in order before her death. For many people, acknowledging their mortality is too emotional.
When it comes to the last wishes of New York residents, those wishes might not always be honored, or they may be challenged. Advisers suggest people take steps to draft bulletproof wills. They say because people live longer and second or third marriages are prevalent, many branches get added to the family tree -- some of which might expect to feature in a will. There might even be some of those who are prepared to fight for a piece of the estate.
According to statistics, 80 to 90 percent of businesses nationwide, including in New York, are owned by families. However, a significant percentage of those businesses are lost before making it to the third generation. This is said to happen because succession planning is often neglected when drafting wills and other estate planning documents.
Regardless of the size of their estates, New Yorkers of just about any age are encouraged to do estate planning. For various reasons, financial advisers suggest that individuals should start with establishing wills and consider additional options that can reduce probate fees. Depending on the value of the assets, state and federal estate taxes might apply, along with probate fees.
When it comes to estate planning and the documents included, state laws vary. For that reason, New York residents must comply with specific requirements when signing wills. If the required formalities and legalities are not followed, the court might disregard the validity of a will and subject the estate to intestacy laws. Having a valid will is important to ensure one's final wishes are met.
Anyone in New York who is in the throes of divorce might be so overwhelmed by all the matters that need consideration and the many decisions that need to be made, that some crucial issues might be forgotten. However, reviewing estate plans must not be overlooked. The laws related to wills and divorce differ from state to state, but even if a spouse is automatically removed after a divorce, what happens if death should occur in the time leading up to the final divorce settlement? The surviving spouse will have legal rights to the estate if this should happen.
Estate planning is an exercise that reminds many people in New York of their mortality. That causes many to procrastinate, deciding that wills and other estate planning measures can be put off for another day down the line. However, having an up-to-date estate plan can provide peace of mind, particularly since no one knows when an accident or other tragedy may disrupt their lives.
People in New York often question the need for estate planning, and many think it is only required for those with significant assets. However, establishing wills or trusts is the only way to ensure that assets are passed to chosen beneficiaries rather than those determined by the state. An estate plan can be will based or trust based.