Estate Planning and Wills

The Necessity of Estate Planning and Wills

Estate planning attorneys in New York recognize that Estate planning and Wills can involve various degrees of complexity. You want to utilize estate attorneys to achieve personal, family and tax objectives. An outright distribution of assets may only require a simple Will. If you desire one or more trusts you may need a testamentary trust provision in your Will. Alternatively, the Will may leave assets to a preexisting inter vivos trust (created in your lifetime), in which case it is called a pour over Will. From the simple to the complex, the purpose of estate planning and wills is to ensure that the testator’s estate plan and goals are achieved and to provide for surviving family members, and minimize taxes. Estate planning documents such as a Last Will and advanced directives such as a Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy are needed to avoid uncertainty and litigation in Guardianship Court or Surrogate’s Court regarding a person’s desires and intent. Other papers that may be appropriate include a Living Trust, a Living Will and a Power of Attorney.

There are many significant issues that I review with individuals regarding their Estate Plan. First and foremost is obtaining information regarding family members and kinship. Gathering information regarding next of kin or heirship may not always be a simple task. Family members may have become estranged over the years. Also, kinship history may be located in places outside of the United States where birth, death and marriage records are not properly maintained. Also, a thorough review of assets is needed to ascertain value for possible estate and gift tax implications. Assets include bank statements, stocks, real estate and other items of value. Finding out about asset ownership is important since some assets such as jointly owned property will pass upon death directly to a joint owner and not be controlled by a Last Will. Other assets such as life insurance and retirement accounts may also go directly to named beneficiaries. Typically, only assets in a person’s name alone are controlled by a Last Will. Discussing beneficiaries and having Executors and Trustees is also vital. The fundamental purpose of estate planning and preparing a Last Will and other papers is to avoid disputes and confusion regarding the settling of one’s affairs. In the event a person dies without a Will, state laws provide who inherits your estate. The preparation of estate planning documents avoids this result and the distribution of an estate to unintended beneficiaries.

As a New York Estate attorney, I have many years of experience working with and advising clients in the creation and implementation of plans that effectively express their personal desires regarding the disposition and protection of assets while providing potential tax advantages and security for family and beneficiaries.

New York Estate and Trust attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped and represented clients in Estate Planning for over 30 years. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance regarding a Queens, Manhattan or other New York Estate matter or have any questions regarding such proceedings, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or fill out my contact form or e-mail me at jules.haas@verizon.net