People naturally don’t like to think about death. They often prefer to enjoy their lives and to simply live in the moment. However, if a person becomes incapacitated or ends up dying and hasn’t made the proper legal preparations, this can cause grief for family members who are already mourning the loss of a loved one. Several steps can help a person to engage in estate planning in New York so as to protect their assets and to protect their family members in the aftermath of his or her death.
A will typically determines which beneficiaries will receive certain assets upon a person’s death. The will can also authorize the person’s surviving spouse to control who inherits assets such as retirement accounts or life insurance, for example. However, if the accounts have a different beneficiary designation than that contained in a will, the beneficiary named on the specific accounts normally takes precedence in entitlement to that asset. It is wise for the individual’s title documents, which prove ownership of assets, to be in line with the individual’s estate plan.
Meanwhile, a living trust can be helpful if someone later becomes incapacitated. A person who is designated as a power of attorney has the ability to use the incapacitated person’s checking account money to pay for any required expenses. A designated trustee also has the responsibility of overseeing the individual’s financial accounts and must help the person to stay up-to-date on his or her personal expenses.
Estate planning in New York allows a person to be prepared for a situation in which he or she cannot physically handle his or her financial affairs or even ends up passing away. Without a will, the court will end up deciding how that person’s valuables will be distributed through the probate process, and the outcome may not be satisfactory to the surviving loved ones. If someone becomes incapacitated and hasn’t designated a power of attorney, this may cause conflict with other family members who have differing opinions about a proper course of action. Well-thought-out estate planning is designed to prevent these issues.
Source: Lake County News, Estate Planning: Harmonizing the entire estate plan , Dennis Fordham, Dec. 28, 2013