A common misconception of many New Yorkers is that estate planning is only for the wealthy. Yet, you don't have to live in a Manhattan penthouse and travel in private jets to have an estate worth protecting. Actually, estate planning is for everyone. From the wealthy to the not so wealthy, beginning at age 18. Comprehensive planning designed with an experienced New York estate lawyer like Attorney David Parker helps protect you, everyone you love, and everything you have whether you are healthy, incapacitated, or deceased. Plus, once you have created a plan, as your life changes, so also might your wishes regarding how your assets are distributed after your death. It's common for relationships, financial circumstances and family dynamics to change over time. Each significant stage in your life is a reminder of why planning is essential.
As soon as they become legal adults at age 18, your children have several legal tasks to take care of, especially if they are headed away from home to college or are moving to another state to start the next phase of their life. Even though your child will still undoubtedly need help, you will need the legal standing to do so with financial institutions, universities, hospitals, their workplace, and other organizations. Read more about what documents will be needed in this phase of your child's life in our article, Is Your Kid off to College? Don't Forget These Legal Documents
One of the most common reasons to create or update your estate plan occurs when your family dynamics change. Have you recently married, divorced, or welcomed a child or grandchild? These life events change the assets and people in your life who all need protection when life throws you curveballs. Plus, for those who have new grandchildren or are getting remarried, it's important to reconsider how you want your estate distributed. Reviewing your current beneficiary designations and any existing estate plans can help you ensure that new family members are included or that former spouses are removed, reflecting your current wishes.
Unfortunately, many married couples mistakenly believe they can make personal, health care, and financial decisions for one another should either spouse become legally incapacitated due to a serious injury or illness. Nothing could be further from reality! Without proper estate planning in advance to appoint your spouse as the incapacity decision-maker, they will not have legal authority to make even fundamental decisions for you (or affecting both of you).
Plus, if you are a new parent, you want to be sure to appoint guardians for your minor children. If you do not legally document how you want your children cared for if anything should happen to you or your spouse, the State of New York can step in to assign temporary guardians of whom you do not approve.
If you are in your peak earning years and have recently been promoted or started a new job, now is a great time to review your current financial situation and ensure that you, your property, and your loved ones are protected. Perhaps you are part of the Sandwich Generation, beginning to help aging parents with personal, health care and financial responsibilities, while also navigating the work of raising minor children. Don't let the pace of life right now prevent you from planning to protect in the event of the unexpected.
Also, if you've recently moved to New York, keep in mind that laws governing estates vary by state. The legal requirements for New Yorkers might differ from those in your previous residence, affecting estate administration. Meeting with a White Plains estate attorney is advisable to ensure your documents comply with local laws.
If you're ready to be free from work and you're enjoying the quiet of an empty nest at home, don't be fooled into thinking you no longer need to worry about financial or estate planning. As you near retirement, you probably have more assets than at any other point in your life. Your estate plan directs how these assets are distributed at the time of your death. Avoid the misstep of millions of older Americans who don’t have an estate plan or haven't reviewed their plan in decades. Proper estate planning for any stage of life requires thoughtful choices with legal backing with each major life change.
Did you know the law requires every adult American to make their own personal, financial, and health care decisions? If you are noticing yourself aging beyond your spouse, friends, and family members, it's important to document legally who would make your basic decisions if you are legally incapacitated due to a serious injury, illness, or dementia. Life changes can sneak up fast, and it's essential to decide now how your finances, medical care, and distribution of assets will be decided during this stage of life.
Unless you legally appoint the decision-maker of your own selection in advance through proper estate planning, then a New York probate judge will select one for you. The probate court process to accomplish this is expensive (it employs at least three attorneys), discloses your private personal and financial information to the public record and is a real hassle for your loved ones. While the formal name for this probate process is a guardianship and conservatorship, we affectionately refer to it as the lawyer full-employment program.
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