Estate Planning FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about Estate Planning

Are you wondering if estate planning would benefit you and your loved ones? Whether you know it or not, you have an estate. Your estate is comprised of everything that you own and this includes your vehicles, your home, property, personal belongings, jewelry, collectibles, investments, checking and savings accounts, and just about anything you can put a price tag on. If you would prefer your assets and personal belongings to go to whom you want when you want as opposed to having the state control the distribution for you, then we urge you to continue reading our estate planning frequently asked questions below. For more information, please contact a Long Island estate planning lawyer from our firm directly!

What is estate planning?
Estate planning is a process which involves the assistance of professional advisors who are familiar with your long-term goals and concerns, your assets and how they are owned and your family dynamics. Estate planning covers the transfer of your property upon your death as well as a variety of other matters such as guardianship, life insurance, long-term care insurance, advanced directives, Medicaid planning etc.

What is a revocable trust?
A revocable trust, also known as a living trust is one that you create during your lifetime. A living trust allows you to manage your assets and it protects them should you become ill, disabled or mentally incapacitated due to aging. Living trusts allow you to change or amend them whenever you please, and they can allow you to avoid probate.

What does it mean to die intestate?
To die intestate means to die without a will. If you die without a will then your estate will go into an administration proceeding and an administrator will be appointed by the court. When this happens, your assets are distributed according to New York's laws of descent and distribution, which may not be the way you would have wanted them to be distributed.

What are some benefits of having a will?
A will allows you to appoint a guardian if you have minor children, it allows you to designate an executor to administrate your estate after you die, it allows you to appoint someone to make important health care and financial decisions for you if you are incapable of doing so, it allows you to distribute property to friends, relatives or charities whom would not benefit under the state's intestacy laws, and of course, it allows you to distribute your property to who you want, when you want.

What about jointly owned property?
If you own property with another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, then the property will pass directly to the remaining joint tenant upon your death and it will not be included in your probated estate.

Do I need a trust?
Trusts are valuable legal tools that are often a part of a good estate plan. They provide incredible flexibility for the ownership of certain assets and assist heirs in achieving a number of goals that would not be available otherwise. When a trust is created by a will it is called a testamentary trust, and the trust provisions are contained within the will. A trust created during your lifetime is called a living trust, and the trust's provisions are contained within the trust agreement.

Should I get life insurance?
Life insurance plays an important role in financial, retirement and estate planning and should be coordinated with the other aspects of your estate plan. With life insurance you can designate one or more beneficiaries to receive the proceeds upon your death or you can make the proceeds payable to your probate estate or to your trust.

Have more questions? Contact a Long Island Estate Planning Attorney

To learn more about the components of a good estate plan and how you can benefit from putting a plan into action sooner than later, contact a Long Island estate planning lawyer from the Law Offices of Steven M. Adler, PLLC by calling (516) 740-1184 today!