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Importance of Estate Planning

In the famous words of Benjamin Franklin, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” There is nothing that can be done to prevent death. But a lot can be done to control a person’s assets after their death. Yet, a large majority of people fail to plan their estate. The most common reason is “It’s only for the wealthy.”

The simple answer to that is, no. Estate planning can be for anyone. Having control over your assets after you die can be very powerful. Here are some reasons to plan your estate now.

Not Planning Your Estate Can Lead To Unintended Consequences

The New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law (EPTL) sets out a distribution list for a person who dies intestate (without a Will). For example, if a person dies intestate and is survived by a spouse and children, then the first $50,000 plus one-half of the remaining estate passes to the spouse, and the remainder of the estate passes to the surviving children.

However, what if the person who died intestate was estranged from their children? This may not be a common scenario but it is possible. The person who died intestate has no control over his/her estate. But, if they had planned their estate then they could have made sure their surviving spouse was cared for, completely.

Minor Children

If a parent, with minor children, dies without having a Will, the consequences can be very severe. There are so many unanswered questions. Who will care for the child? How will the child be cared for?

Most likely, the court will have to appoint a guardian for the minor child. While the judge appointing the guardian will take the best interest of the child into consideration, the judge will not know anything about the child. What if the child has medical problems only the parents knew about? What if the parents followed certain beliefs?

New York Law allows parents to appoint a guardian using a Will. Not only that, but the parents have the ability to appoint a different guardian for different tasks; one guardian to look after the child and the other guardian to look after the child financially. The ability to appoint a guardian in the Will is very beneficial to parents. The parents can now have the peace of mind knowing that someone they trust will be caring for their child financially, lovingly, and with the same beliefs of the parents.