Losing a friend or loved one can be emotional. It is during this hard time that people are forced to make crucial decisions regarding a person’s estate. In some cases, the estate will need to go through the probate process, which helps to settle matters, such as ensuring the will is valid and that the estate assets and property gets to the beneficiaries named in the will. If an estate administrator or executor of the will is named within the document, that person is responsible for seeing the will through the probate process.
As you are planning your estate in New York, one big decision you will have to make is who will be your executor. This is a very important choice that can have a far-reaching impact. The executor will ensure that your wishes are carried out after you are no longer around to see to them. Choosing the right executor can make things go more smoothly for your heirs.
If you are the executor of someone’s New York estate or the trustee of his or her trust, that makes you a fiduciary. In other words, you are someone entrusted with the power and authority to handle assets for the benefit of others. Because the decedent or trust settlor trusted you to manage and distribute his or her assets, you owe a duty to the estate or trust to do so competently, appropriately and for the benefit of the designated heirs and/or beneficiaries.
During the course of our professional duties here at Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we see our fair share of family disagreements. Among the most acrimonious are those resulting from the alleged misappropriation of estate assets. We understand that everyone deals with grief in a different way: some mourn in solitude while others attempt to live life to the fullest. Unfortunately, the latter alternative sometimes causes discord when that lavish lifestyle is funded by trusts.
Saying goodbye to your parents is one of the hardest things you may ever do, and no one wants to worry about juggling paperwork and tying up loose ends when they are going through such an emotionally taxing time. On top of planning a New York burial and helping your family heal after your shared loss, you may also have concerns about whether your parents left considerable debt behind, and if so, whether you might be responsible for it. At the law offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we are well-versed in the answers to these and related questions, and we have helped many clients navigate the many steps that often follow losing a parent.
Important life decisions become even more crucial as you enter middle age. You likely have already implemented New York estate planning for your children, perhaps by setting up a will that leaves your assets and property to them when you pass away. However, it is possible that not all of your assets may end up in the hands of your loved ones. If you are not careful, some assets might slip through the cracks.
You are already probably on the right track if you are asking about your obligations as an executor of a New York estate. However, the question is not as simple as it might seem to you at first. Your responsibilities are subject to change based on the type of estate you are named to administer.
If you are planning your estate in New York, you may want to take a minute to review the new federal estate tax law. This could change what you do with your assets. If you already have an estate plan, you may want to make changes so your estate does not go to probate or other issues do not arise due to this new law.
There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstands about probate in New York. It is often put out there that probate is this long, drawn-out process that is complicated to get through, but that is not always the reality. The process is often a formality needed to ensure the legal transfer of assets.
When you think about probate, you probably automatically think about a will. You may have been led to believe that all wills have to go through probate after a person dies. This is not always true. It really is dependent on each situation. Your will may never have to go through probate in New York courts, which could make things much easier on your loved ones since probate can be long and tedious.