Why Have an Estate Plan?
A well-crafted estate plan will reduce or eliminate estate taxes and reduce involvement with the probate system in New York, and at the same time promote family harmony. Creating an estate plan is not just prudent, it is essential. An estate plan provides peace of mind in knowing that one’s assets are appropriately preserved for future generations, a spouse and family members are adequately protected and all last wishes are carefully memorialized. Equally important is the concept of saving taxes: poor planning results in additional (and unnecessary) payments to the Federal and State governments; tax avoidance, not tax evasion, is one goal, and the all important corollary of maximizing the value of assets being transferred is another goal.
At a minimum, the following documents are the necessary components of an estate plan:
- Last Will and Testament
- Health care proxy
- Living Will
- Power of Attorney
The Top 5 Reasons to Focus on Estate Planning Now
1. Estate planning makes sure that your estate goes to the people you want your estate to be transferred to, when and how you want it to be transferred, instead of by laws dictating how assets of people without Wills (called intestate) pass.
2. Estate planning shows your family that you were thoughtful and planned for their well-being in advance and with as little aggravation as possible.
3. Estate planning saves your heirs legal fees, taxes, and time in settling your affairs.
4. Estate planning protects your assets from being eaten up by nursing home costs.
5. Estate planning allows you to secure your retirement plan for generations.
I also counsel many of my clients on planning with life insurance trusts, gifting techniques, 529 plans, transfers to trusts, transfers to and from non-citizen spouses, and the like.