When most New York parents deal with estate planning, they make sure their minor children will be protected and cared for if they should die or become incapacitated. This concern is heightened for parents of children with disabilities. For them, their wills might need to include plans for lifelong care of their children -- but where should they start?
For estate planning documents to be valid in New York and elsewhere, the testator must have had testamentary capacity when the papers were signed. In cases in which wills were signed or modified after dementia diagnosis, challenges might be filed. One man had several questions after his three siblings pressured their father into changing his will.
New York laws allow people to create and maintain estate plans to choose to whom assets will be left upon their deaths. These plans typically include wills and trusts, and inter vivo transfers could also form part of estate planning. Unfortunately, many unscrupulous opportunists find ways to misuse others and take advantage of them. Typical targets are older people who own substantial assets and who are vulnerable because of illness, memory problems and isolation from family members.
Estate planning is a crucial yet challenging task. Advisors in New York discourage people from leaving the drafting of wills and establishing trusts until they have reached middle age. Although many see it as a daunting task, debilitating or even fatal injuries can occur at any age, and being prepared is crucial. One of the tasks that needs careful consideration involves appointing an executor for the estate.
Some New York residents might prefer to avoid thinking about death and what would happen to their assets if they should die. However, taking the time to establish a will can provide peace of mind because the individual will know that his or her assets will be distributed according to the directions set forth in the will. Other documents that usually form part of estate planning include health care and financial powers of attorney, and it could also include trusts of different kinds.
Having conversations with adult children about financial and other family matters is as important as having those "birds and bees" talks with young children or adolescents. Avoiding it is much easier, and authorities in the estate-planning field say a significant percentage of people nationwide, including New York, neglect to draft wills. Many of them only have these talks after medical emergencies -- but that might be too late.
When a celebrity dies, New Yorkers are often curious to know whether the deceased person's estate planning was up to date, what is the size of the estate and who will inherit what. With the passing of Aretha Franklin last August, it was at first reported that she died without a will. However, it has since been noted that three separate wills, with different dates, were discovered among the belongings of the "Queen of Soul." Now, the question is, which of those wills, if any, will be deemed valid under the laws of the state in which she resided.
Not everyone in New York understands the importance of estate planning. It involves more than just wills and trusts, and many people are misled by the myths that exist about this process, the first of which is that only those who are wealthy need to concern themselves with this process. Anyone with investments, a bank account, a car, a home or other assets can protect their own interests and the interests of loved ones by proper estate planning.
Parents in New York who establish estate plans will likely include plans for the physical and financial care of their children. This is mostly done in the wills of the parents by naming a person to take over the care of minor children in the event of the death of both parents. Courts will only dishonor the wishes of the parents if the conservator or guardian is deemed unsuitable or if that person is not willing to take on the responsibility.
Estate planning can be complicated, and a process that is best done with the support and guidance of legal counsel. To underscore the fact that wills are not to be regarded as DIY projects, New York residents can look at a case in another state in which a woman had only a handwritten will when she died. The document stated that 65% of her estate must go to her life partner and the balance to an aunt.