Articles

Basic Estate Planning Documents

Basic Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning aims to achieve a number of objectives including, but not limited to, designation of guardians, incapacity planning, asset protection, asset distribution and wealth maximization. It may involve various legal and financial instruments as well as complex tax planning techniques and strategies. However, it all starts with the following basic estate planning documents: 1. Last Will and Testament Last will and testament, or simply the will, is a document which leaves the estate of the testator to named individuals and...

read more

Is a Joint Will a Good Idea?

Is a Joint Will a Good Idea?

A joint will is a will that two or more people make together, rather than each making their own will individually. In practice, a joint will is typically created and signed by a married couple in order to dispose of property that they own together. This may seem like a good idea: why write two wills when you can simply write one together? However, joint wills can raise potential complications. Couples often create joint wills to prevent each other from changing their mind after the first spouse dies. It is important to note that a joint will...

read more

How to Properly Revoke a Will in New York

How to Properly Revoke a Will in New York

There are various reasons why someone would want to revoke a will. Many, if not most, people make more than one will during their lifetime. Reasons for wanting to create a new will and revoke the old one can include divorce, remarriage, having children, acquiring or selling property, or just changing one’s mind. Also, sometimes the person who made the will (the Testator) may simply wish to revoke a prior will without making a new one. It is important to make sure that the will is, in fact, revoked. In New York, a will can only be revoked in...

read more

Requirements for Executing a Will in New York

Requirements for Executing a Will in New York

Executing a will is the act of signing a will and making it legally binding. New York law has strict requirements for executing a will. First, a person executing a will must be at least 18 years old. The legal term for the maker of the will is Testator, and in New York a will is formally called a “Last Will and Testament.” In order to properly sign the will, the Testator must sign “at the end thereof.” Any words that appear on the will following the signature are not given effect. In some instances, an entire will may be declared invalid if...

read more

What if Someone Dies without a Will?

What if Someone Dies without a Will?

A will leaves the estate to named persons and organizations. Through a will, the testator can make specific gifts, distribute percentages of the estate, and create trusts for management and future distribution of all or some of the assets of the estate. But what if a New Yorker dies without a will or a will is held to be invalid? Distribution of Assets If an individual dies without a will he or she is said to have “died intestate”. New York laws contain rules for distribution of property, both real and personal, in intestacy. In essence, New...

read more

What to Discuss with a New York Estate Planning Attorney

What to Discuss with a New York Estate Planning Attorney

Estate planning can be overwhelming for many people, in part, because good estate planning involves planning not just for foreseeable circumstances, but for unforeseeable ones as well. Below are several different topics to consider discussing with your New York estate planning attorney. Last Will and Testament Results from a recent AARP survey indicate that 41% of baby boomers and 71% of people under the age of 34 do not have a will. Likewise, many people who do have a will do not keep it up-to-date. It is important to revisit a will after an...

read more

How Assets Pass to Heirs

How Assets Pass to Heirs

People often have misconceptions about how assets pass after death. Some even believe that if they do not transfer property they own to their children, it will go to the state. There are many instances where misinformed individuals engage in transactions that lead to unintended results and unnecessary tax liability. Understanding how assets pass after death is essential for putting together a sound estate plan. In doing so, it is particularly important to distinguish a probate asset from a non-probate asset, because that determines to whom...

read more

5 Reasons You Do Not Have an Estate Plan

5 Reasons You Do Not Have an Estate Plan

Most people realize that estate planning is important, but nevertheless procrastinate getting it done. Below are some of the most common excuses for delaying. 1. I am too young It is common for estate planning professionals to say that one is never too young to plan his or her estate. I, however, believe that age alone is an inappropriate indicator. It is a combination of someone’s stage in life and their personal beliefs that should be taken into account. A wealthy, elderly lady with no family may not care one bit about what happens to her...

read more

No-Contest Clauses in a New York Will

No-Contest Clauses in a New York Will

The purpose of a no-contest, or In-Terrorem, clause in a will is to deter a lawsuit challenging the will. If the person making a will sees potential red flags such as tensions between beneficiaries, he or she may want to include a no-contest clause to minimize the chance of future conflict. A no-contest clause provides that if a beneficiary challenges the terms of the will, he or she will lose their share of the estate. The possibility of losing their inheritance will make many beneficiaries think twice before challenging a will. Different...

read more