Estate planning is something that many people in New York and elsewhere push to the back burner. However, even those who have their wills in place might have addressed property, money and children, but overlooked some things that could be included in their wills. Pet guardianship, digital assets and charitable contributions are all important concerns that can be addressed in a last will and testament.
Too many people in New York are unprepared for what the future might have in store for them. Estate planning is not only for older people and those with significant wealth. Others, like single parents, newly enlisted soldiers and anyone who is working and earning money have excellent reasons for drafting wills and other documents. It can ensure that their wishes are clear, even when they can no longer express them.
It is not uncommon for people to feel they were unfairly treated in a loved one's will. Although New York state laws allow people to contest wills, it is a complicated legal process that requires much more than not liking the terms of a will. Proving a will to be invalid could be a costly and time-consuming process, typically not tackled without legal counsel. While state laws differ, four fundamental reasons could lead to a will being declared invalid.
Relocating to another state might affect the validity of some estate planning documents. People who move to or from New York might be caught unawares when a loved one is hospitalized or becomes incapacitated, and they do not have the power to make financial or medical decisions. In some jurisdictions, powers of attorney that were established along with wills in other states are not recognized.
Estate planning can be a daunting process, and that might be why -- reportedly -- only about half of all Americans have legacy plans in place. Wills and trusts are essential for people in New York and elsewhere, to make sure their wishes are met for aging and possible incapacitation or death, of which the latter can happen at any time. Leaving it for a more appropriate time to draft a will could be a big mistake.
Ending a marriage is never an easy process, even if the divorce is amicable. It is not uncommon for people in New York and elsewhere to be so overwhelmed by property division, child custody and other issues that they push updating their wills and trusts to the back burner or forget about it altogether. There are essential estate planning matters to attend to at this challenging time.
In many cases, the first stumbling block for people in New York who want to get their estate planning done is understanding the different options. Some think they have to choose between trusts and wills, not realizing that they can have both. Many people choose to incorporate trusts along with their wills because it could ensure the proper execution of their orders.
Losing a loved one is naturally a traumatic experience. When a person discovers that he or she was left out of the will, the trauma is often magnified. However, challenging a will is a complicated process and best handled with legal guidance. Under New York laws, a testator has the final say over whom to name as beneficiaries in a will.
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.