If you die without a Will, Trust, or other valid Estate Planning documents in place, New York’s laws of Intestacy will likely determine what happens to your assets.
Though sufficient in some circumstances, the laws of Intestacy fall short for many individuals as there truly is no “one size fits all” approach to Estate Planning.
Therefore, it is critical to not only have a Will, Trust, and/or other Estate Planning documents prepared, but to review and update your Estate Planning documents on a regular basis so as to ensure that the Plan is current, and that your end of life wishes are followed out.
Indeed, as the circumstances in your life change, so should your Estate Plan.
Did you experience a change in your marital status?
Marriage is the perfect opportunity to think about Estate Planning.
If you are planning on getting married, or were recently married, now is the perfect time to create an Estate Plan.
There is no question that your spouse, and future family, will need to be cared for if you unexpectedly pass.
An Estate Plan that takes their needs into consideration is therefore essential as you start this new chapter of your life
Alternatively, if you already have an Estate Plan from prior to your marriage, it should be updated to care for your new spouse.
Not only will your Will need to be updated, but you will likely want to change beneficiary designations and/or the ways in which you organize your bank accounts and other assets as well to provide for your new spouse.
Conversely, you will likely want to remove your former spouse as a beneficiary of your Estate if your marriage comes to an end.
Did you recently become a parent?
After the birth of a child, it is important to add your child or children to any existing Estate Planning documents.
If you don’t have a Will, it is in your best interest to create one after you welcome a new addition to the family.
In addition to ensuring that your child inherits property in an efficient manner, a Will also allows you to appoint a guardian for them in the event that you and your spouse pass in a common disaster.
An estate and trust planning attorney can provide you with insight into these matters, explain the various Estate Planning options to care for a growing family, and guide you through this process.
Are you experiencing medical issues?
Naming an Agent under a power of attorney is another integral part of your Estate Plan, and is all but necessary if you are experiencing medical issues that might lead to temporary or permanent cognitive and/or physical decline.
Indeed, a power of attorney appoints an Agent that can legally act on your behalf in the event you cannot.
if you are experiencing medical issues of this type, it may also be a good idea to prepare an advance directive, such as a Living Will, or the appoint a Health Care Proxy.
Doing so can help to ensure that your end-of-life wishes are clearly articulated in the event that you aren’t able to speak, or act, for yourself – a Living Will setting forth the terms of your end of life care, and a Health Care Proxy appointing an Agent to make health care decisions for you in the event that you cannot.
Needless to say, it is highly advisable that you create or review your Estate Plan after a significant life event.
It may also be worthwhile to schedule an annual review of your Estate Plan even if your life hasn’t changed much over the past 12 months.
If you have any questions regarding Estate Planning, contact Bashian P.C.