Things to Consider Before You Start Your Estate Planning
Aug. 16, 2022
The best estate plans are the result of numerous decisions. Some are major, some less so, but each works in tandem with others to reflect the wishes of the person creating the plan for themselves and their loved ones.
Although you will learn about and make most of the decisions throughout the estate planning process, there are some key considerations you should make before you sit down with your attorney to begin crafting yours. Of course, you may want to ask your estate planning attorney questions that will inform your decisions, but some considerations will require more focus than others.
At the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, we work with clients in Tonawanda, Amherst, and Wheatfield, New York, as well as in Erie County and Niagara County, to build estate plans that ensure their wishes and their legacies. Here are some things to consider before you start your estate planning with us.
What Is Involved in Drafting an Estate Plan?
An estate plan comprises the legal documents you need to execute to direct how your want your assets distributed upon death, who you want to benefit from your estate, who you want to make decisions for you if you are unable to, and who you want to administer your estate when you are gone or manage your business and personal affairs should you become incapacitated.
Drafting an estate plan involves choosing the estate planning tools that will achieve your goals, creating and executing enforceable legal documents, and updating your plan as things in life change. Marriage and divorce, the birth or death of children, the acquisition or sale of assets, and the launch or closure of a business are just a few life-altering events your estate plan needs to keep pace with.
What Should I Consider Before Drafting an Estate Plan?
There are numerous considerations for you to ponder before drafting an estate plan. The decisions you make are far more important than choosing which shoes to wear or even which house to buy. These decisions will determine your legacy in life and in death. Here are some key considerations:
Figure out what you want your estate plan to achieve for you and your loved ones. Your estate plan is a means to an end, so you need to consider what you want that end to look like. Do you want to avoid probate? Do you want to determine who benefits from your estate? Do you want to pass down something you own to someone specific? Do you want to make sure someone you trust is managing your affairs if you become ill or unable to do so yourself? Do you want your estate or your beneficiaries to avoid certain taxes? Spend time thinking about your goals.
Draw up a list of your current assets as well as your debts. Assets and debts must be addressed in estate plans, or the probate court will do it for you. Keep in mind that the list will change over time so you and your attorney will need to keep that information updated as things change.
Ponder who you want to benefit from your estate. If you die intestate, that is, without a will, New York’s law of intestate succession will determine who inherits what. If you take control of your own wishes through an estate plan, you decide who benefits. Keep in mind that loved ones aren’t the only ones who can benefit. Charitable organizations and other entities can benefit if you want them to.
Consider those people or pets you want to provide for when you’re gone. If you have minor children, family with special needs, or a loyal pet you want to take care of, you will need to do so in your estate plan.
Think about people you trust to make financial and legal decisions for you if you are unable to do so yourself. Who do you trust to administer your estate as specified in your will? Who do you want to serve as trustee of your trust, managing it as you want it to be managed? Who do you trust to handle specific legal duties in your stead if you are unable to while you are alive and give the authority to when you die?
Figure out who you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. You can express your wishes in multiple estate planning documents but need to name someone who may need to make life-and-death decisions for you while reflecting your wishes.
Express your wishes for your funeral, memorial, and disposition of your remains in your estate plan. Doing so will make these tasks much easier on your loved ones and will ensure your wishes are honored.
If you own a business, you will need to determine what you want to happen to it when you die or if you become unable to run it yourself. You may need a business succession plan to take care of those details.
Estate Planning Guidance You Can Trust
At the Law Office Of Corey J. Rossi, we take all the time you need to understand all the estate planning tools available to you, answer your questions fully, and guide you through the decisions you need to make without overwhelming you.
If you’re ready to begin talking about your estate plan, call us today. We proudly serve clients in and around Tonawanda, New York, building estate plans that will achieve their goals.