Would you ask the same question about home insurance, if you are a home owner? Or would you ask this same question about car insurance, if you are a driver? The answer is you need one because it is an essential part of your affairs as an adult no matter where you reside or what you do in life.
Estate plan is nothing more than that – a plan of disposition of all of your assets. It “lives and evolves” with you as your life circumstances change and asset grow.
You may say that you do not have any “assets”. This is not true. If you own a baseball card collection, some paintings that your grandmother left you in her Will, or a million dollar condo overlooking new York City, you need a plan of how your accumulated wealth will be distributed when you are no longer around. If you have loved ones, be it your partner in life, your children, you parents or siblings, you ought to think to alleviate the burden off their shoulders should they lose you.
When someone dies without a good estate plan, the settlement of their affairs is left for the loved ones to carry on without much guidance and help of the written instruments expressing the decedent’s thoughts and wishes. Your partner or your parents or siblings will have to go to court to look to the guidance of the state law as to the procedure of administering an intestate (i.e. without Will) estate.
Key elements to your life estate should be as follows:
• Will and/or a Revocable Trust;
• Health care proxy;
• Power of Attorney;
• Living Will or Last Directive;
• Thought-out designation of beneficiaries for your 401Ks or IRA accounts;
• Life insurance policy, preferable in a life insurance trust
Depending on where you are in life, your estate plan may be very easy and straight forward just to make sure that your affairs are in order and your loved ones are taken care of, or a very complex multi-phase and multi-element one, which addresses issues of taxes, creditors and protections for your children.
If you have elderly parents, young children or any members of the family with special needs, having an estate plan is not an option, it is a necessity.
If you would like to learn more about planning your estate please contact us at 212-596-7039.