One question I hear often is: Do I need a will? The better question is: Should I do some estate planning? There are many options in estate planning, and your first step should be to visit an attorney with experience in wills, trusts and estates. Your attorney should listen to your unique circumstances, suggest possible legal strategies, and you should decide what is best for you and your family. And for those getting near retirement, you will need to discuss elder law with your attorney.
By the way, I do not recommend that you attend one of these public meetings you read about in the newspapers, where some slick attorney tries to convince you that life estates are the only way to go. These forums are simplistic. You need more detailed legal advice to properly plan your estate.
Here are a few quick points relating to estate planning decisions to help guide you in the right direction.
First, if you do not have a will, estate or trust, when you die the government decides how your property should be divided, and I don’t think anyone wants that.
Second, I meet a lot of young parents without wills. This is a mistake. If for no other reason, parents should consider doing a will to formally declare who will get custody of their minor children if both parents die in some horrible accident.
Third, many attorneys in the field believe that everyone should at least have the following documents: 1) will, 2) living will, and 3) health care proxy. Also, for senior citizens, it is helpful to have a power of attorney which establishes who will manage your finances and property when you can no longer do so due to mental impairments such as dementia.
This quick summary will hopefully push you to get serious about doing some estate planning. There are many excellent attorneys out there that practice in the areas of wills, trusts and estates. I would be happy to sit down with you to start the conversation.James Maisano, Esq. Jim@JamesMaisanoEsq.com (O) 914-636-1621 (C) 914-469-5486 www.JamesMaisanoEsq.com