Protecting estate assets can be accomplished through various means. One of the most common strategies is executing a last will and testament. Another is transferring assets into a trust. If estate planning strategies are not established prior to death, all Queens, NY Estate Administration Attorney owned by the decedent must pass through probate before distribution to heirs can occur.
An estate can be comprised of real property, financial accounts, cash, motor vehicles, jewelry, antiques, collectibles, artwork, household furnishings, and personal belongings. In order to ensure property is gifted to specific individuals upon death, a last will and testament must be executed. The last will is an important part of protecting estate assets. This document is used to bequeath gifts to family, friends, charities, or whomever you want to receive specific inheritance property. A last will can also be used to disinherit relatives.
Claim Against the Estate:
When a person dies without having a legal Will in place, the estate must be settled according to state probate law. Inheritance property normally transfers to the surviving spouse or direct lineage heirs, but anyone can place a claim against the estate if they are owed money or have a binding contract with the decedent.
- Probate can be a complex process; particularly when decedents die intestate (without a Will). Estate assets must be inventoried and secured throughout the probate process. An estate executor is appointed to manage estate settlement procedures.
- If heirs squabble over inheritance property, probate can be suspended for several months while lawyers negotiate. Legal fees can bankrupt small estates and estate administrators are often forced to sell inheritance assets to cover these costs.
- Strategies can be implemented to avoid probate. The most common is to assign beneficiaries to bank accounts, financial portfolios, retirement accounts, and titled property.
- Most people hire an estate planning attorney to assist them and ensure documents are legally-binding. Those who do not own valuable assets should still engage in basic estate planning strategies. In addition to executing a legal Will, everyone over age 18 should grant power of attorney rights and create a healthcare proxy.
Power of Attorney Grants Authority:
Power of attorney grants authority to another person to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on your own. The person granted powers should be trustworthy and capable of making difficult decisions under duress.
Healthcare proxies allow you to state what type of medical procedures you do or do not want. Elderly people or those enduring terminal illness often establish ‘do not resuscitate’ orders. Others request not to be placed on life support if they aren’t expected to recover. No one wants to think about these matters, but planning for unexpected tragedies ensures your desires will be granted.
Enlisting help from a probate lawyer or estate planner ensures appropriate measures are taken to protect inheritance Queens, NY Estate Planning. These professionals can assist in creating a Will, appointing a probate personal representative, establish guardianship for minor children, and determine if a trust is better suited for protecting your estate.
Estate Planning Tips to Reduce Family Disputes Over Inheritance
Sadly, family disputes over inheritance are a common occurrence. As a probate liquidator I’ve watched countless feuds erupt in court rooms over personal belongings and valuable assets. One thing is certain. Death can unite or separate families and separation often occurs when decedents do not engage in estate planning.
While estate planning cannot prevent family disputes over inheritance it can minimize the risk of heirs contesting the Will and ensure heirs receive intended inheritance gifts. The level of estate planning strategies required depends on several factors including: type and value of owned assets, number of heirs, and state probate laws.