If you don't yet have a will, you're not alone. More than half of American adults don't have a will or living trust, according to a recent study by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
New York residents who are preparing their wills or who have learned that they have been named executors under an existing one may wonder what is involved in being an executor and what responsibilities the position has. The duty of an executor is to gather assets, pay off debts and distribute assets to the beneficiaries.
New York residents who have survived their spouses often have questions about their rights to inherit part of their spouses' estates. Although New York is a common law state, a surviving spouse still has rights that entitle them to part of their deceased spouse's estate.
Individuals in New York who are estate planning should keep in mind that there are a number of common errors that people make with their wills, trusts and other documents and accounts. One of these errors is making an estate plan and failing to return to it for revisions. Such changes as children, marriages, deaths and divorces may result in a needed update, so estate plans should be periodically reviewed.
When two people get married, some estate planning actions should be taken as soon as possible. For instance, it may be worthwhile to put sizable assets into a trust and to ensure that the assets in the trust are properly titled. If the assets are not properly titled, they may have to go through the probate process.
While most people in New York may have heard of living wills, it may not be clear exactly what they are and how they differ from other wills. While a person's regular will discusses how their assets are to be handled after their death, a living will, by contrast, deals with major health care decisions while the person is still living.
New Yorkers who want to ensure their possessions are managed properly may rely on wills and similar documents, but living trusts offer an alternative. These structures are notable in that their grantors can name themselves trustees and thus manage the assets they want to safeguard. In addition, other trusts, such as spendthrift trusts, can be included in a living trust so that beneficiaries are explicitly looked after.
Robin Williams fans in New York might be interested to know that his family could be spared the ordeal of going through probate for certain assets. When someone leaves a will, probate courts verify the document and still make decisions regarding the execution of the deceased person's estate. Court records can reveal specifics of a person's estate that families might like to keep private. Since Williams set up at least one revocable trust, probate might not affect certain aspects of the late actor's estate plan.
Some New York residents may find that establishing a living trust is an attractive option for guiding asset disbursement upon death while avoiding a potentially frustrating probate process. For an individual considering a revocable or irrevocable trust, understanding some basic points regarding these trusts can help an individual to approach the subject more gracefully with a financial advisor or attorney.
One of the most important parts of estate planning is deciding who will be the executor of your estate. All wills have an executor appointed to manage the estate, regardless of if you name an executor or if the state court does. Since an executor is necessary and will be in charge of managing your estate, it is important to pick someone who is trustworthy and responsible.