No matter how much or how little you have, you have an estate, i.e. your property, possessions, and money. What happens to all that once you’re gone? It’s not enough to tell your favourite nephew that he can have your antique train set – someone else in the family may have earmarked it, and so conflict could arise. Similarly, you may wish to leave everything to a charity but can you guarantee that your loved ones will enact your wishes? Hiring an estate planning lawyer will ensure that upon your passing, your estate is disposed of per your wishes.
That said, estate planning is not only to make sure that your family and friends don’t experience any more upset and stress than is necessary; your estate planning attorney will be able to advise you on how to reduce taxes, death duties, and other expenses which might otherwise diminish the value of your estate, leading to less for your loved ones to inherit. Your estate planning lawyer, will, at your direction, also be able to designate guardians for children and incapacitated adults, as well as assign a power of attorney.
In order to make things as easy as possible for your loved ones you need some essential estate planning documents. Here’s a list of documents which you will need to make sure are available to your New York estate planning attorney. Please note that wherever possible, these should be the original documents, not copies.
Last will and testament – a legal declaration, naming one or more executors of your estate,and instruction for the distribution of same. With a will, you may also name guardians for your children, appoint a manager for their estate, and leave instruction as to how debts should be discharged.
Revocable living trust – as the name implies, this is a document which can be changed at any point during your lifetime. As with a will, with a revocable living trust, you may name beneficiaries of your estate; however, you may also use it to avoid probate and conservatorship. Unlike a will, this document, may, if you wish, be kept private after your death.
Irrevocable living trust – in contrast to the above, an irrevocable living trust may not be altered or terminated once it has been finalized. It can also be used to reduce taxes, protect assets, and transfer property and wealth.
Birth certificate – please note that some abstract – or short form – birth certificates may not be deemed acceptable, in which case, a certified document must be obtained from the appropriate registrar.
Social Security Card – this nine-digit social security number is issued to all permanent residents and citizens in the United States, which, in practice, serves as legal identification.
Financial documents – bank statements, pass books, check books, etc.
Most recent tax returns
Insurance policies, contracts, and paperwork
Paperwork relating to any current disability claims
Also, if applicable:
Deeds to cemetery plot(s) – please note that thetransfer of cemetery deeds may only be carried out by the executor of the estate, who must be in possession of the original deed, or other legal documentation stating that they have the authority to make the request.
Deeds to any other currently-owned real estate
Auto title – if the deceased was the sole or joint owner of a vehicle.
Veterans discharge papers
U.S. citizenship papers – for naturalized US citizens, as opposed to those born in the United States.
If you or someone you know would like to talk to a New York estate planning lawyer, then call Richard Cary Spivack on 718-544-1000 today for a free consultation, or send over an email.