Beneficiaries of an Estate
New York estate planning involves consideration of many important items. Most people think that planning an estate only applies to the very wealthy and concerns fancy estate tax formulas and trusts that diminish the impact of taxes and preserve assets for future generations.
The fact is that most individuals need to consider and establish a solid plan even though most estates are not subject to estate taxes. Nowadays, the federal estate tax exemption exceeds $5 million and the New York Estate tax is on its way to exempting the same amount as the federal law.
It is not uncommon when consulting a New York estate lawyer that a client will inquire as to whether he or she should discuss the proposed plan with other family members. Typically, spouses work together in planning. This is because most spouses own assets together as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety or have named the other spouse as a beneficiary on a retirement account or life insurance policy, Moreover, when the couple has children, they both want to make sure that the provisions in their documents provide for the estate assets to pass to the children upon the death of the last surviving spouse.
It is also a good idea to involve other family members in the process. Of course, discussing advance directives and testamentary dispositions with family members such as children is a personal decision that takes into consideration family dynamics. However, where children or other members of a family or even friends have a solid trustworthy relationship, advising them as to the process may be beneficial. For example, it may be helpful, particularly where the creators are elderly, for beneficiaries to know the location or extent of assets so that the assets can be quickly secured in the event the creator becomes ill, incapacitated or dies. Also, it is helpful that named beneficiaries and fiduciaries such as executors and trustees are aware of their appointment and are familiar with the location of documents such as a Last Will, Health Care Proxy or Power of Attorney so that they can access these papers when needed. It should be pointed out that the current form of the New York Power of Attorney requires that the agents appointed to use the power also sign the Power of Attorney and have their signature acknowledged by a notary public. The provisions of the New York law regarding the statutory short form power of attorney are contained in the General Obligations Law beginning at Section 5-1501.
I have many years of experience working with and advising clients in the creation and implementation of plans that effectively express the clients’ personal desires regarding the disposition and protection of assets while providing potential tax advantages and security for family and beneficiaries. I have also represented many beneficiaries of an estate.
I graduated in the top 10% of my class at New England School of Law in Boston and served on the prestigious “Law Review.”
Contact me directly at (212) 355-2575 or by e-mail