Trusts are useful estate planning devices that allow New Yorkers to pass their property to others without the burdens and costs of having it go through probate. While it is often the case that individuals set up trusts to support themselves and their family members, from time to time estate planners wish to benefit charitable organizations through their end of life planning. In this capacity, charitable trusts can be helpful to implement.
Intestate succession refers to the process of distributing a decedent's estate when the decedent does not have a will. As our readers are aware, a will is an important testamentary document that provides guidance on how the assets and property of a person's end-of-life estate should be distributed once they have passed on. While a will gives a person control to make important decisions about their wealth and property, the absence of one give these powers to the state.
A previous post here discussed the importance of including durable powers of attorney in the estate plans of Buffalo residents. In review, a durable power of attorney gives a named party the right to make financial decisions on the part of another person who is unable to do so due to incapacity. Incapacity can happen to anyone at any time. An accident or unexpected illness may leave an otherwise healthy individual without the power to take care of their own affairs.
There are many legal concepts that people in New York may have heard of, but that may be somewhat confusing when it comes to understanding the details. One of those concepts is probate. Many people in Buffalo may have heard of this process and may know that it concerns the estates of decedents. Beyond that, however, people may be unsure of what probate really is.
When a New York resident creates an estate plan, they may do so to ensure that their legal wishes are recorded in the event that they perish before their children are grown. A document like a will may provide guidance on who may take care of a person's kids if they become incapacitated or pass away. Trusts and other estate planning documents may be set up so that children are financially provided for even if their parents are not around to care for them.
In order to execute a valid will in New York a person must meet certain signatory and witness requirements. These requirements are in place to ensure that the wishes and rights of the testator -- that is, the person creating the will -- are protected and that duress and fraud do not play a role in the creation of their testamentary documents. However, in some extreme circumstances individuals may not be able to put together technically valid wills before reaching the ends of their lives. They may be able to execute holographic or nuncupative wills that will be recognized as valid if certain circumstances exist.
A living trust is a powerful testamentary tool that can help a Buffalo resident achieve many of their estate planning goals. While this post will address many of the advantages that individuals may derive from using living trusts, readers should note that not all estate plans may need or benefit from them and that all individuals should contact their trusted estate planning attorneys with their questions about the use of living trusts.
Estate plans and the documents that are included in them often focus on what will happen to an individual's assets after they have passed away. These plans are undoubtedly important as they help to ensure that Buffalo residents' wishes are honored after they die. However, when drafting their estate planning documents New Yorkers may also want to include some plans for what should happen if they are alive but can no longer make decisions for themselves because they are mentally or physically incapacitated.
The New Year is right around the corner and residents of Buffalo may be busy making resolutions and plans for 2019. While most people will focus on making changes to their lifestyles that will introduce health and happiness into their lives, everyone should be taking into account an important consideration about the future: their estate plan.
A Buffalo resident who is just establishing their career or who has not taken the plunge into marriage or parenting may not feel as though an estate plan is important for them to create. Even individuals who care for dependents may not worry about the future of their estates if they perceive their incomes and property holdings to be minimal. These assumptions are generally not accurate, and it is to the benefit of individuals of all life scenarios and financial stations to create estate plans that reflect their wishes and desires.