Estate Planning Tips for the New Year
Make it your resolution to get organized! We know it makes sense to ‘have our affairs in order’ but it can daunting to know where to begin.
With the New Year upon us, this is an excellent time to make good on your resolution to get your estate plan together. Here’s a basic primer on common documents you would consider as part of your estate plan.
Wills and Trusts: Which is better for you?
The two basic estate planning documents you would consider to arrange for the distribution of your assets are Wills and Trusts.
In both, you name who want to receive your assets and in what manner. The key difference is that a Will must be probated by local county Surrogate’s Court. A Trust does not require probate.
Wills are ‘probated’ by being submitted to the Surrogate with a petition for the appointment of your executor. If your probate filing is in order, the Surrogate will appoint your executor to act on behalf of your estate. This allows the executor to collect your assets, pay your bills and distribute the balance of your assets to the people in your Will.
Some legal advisers argue that Trusts are preferable to Wills because they don’t require probate. By avoiding probate, time and money can be saved in the management of your estate. While there is an argument for avoiding probate, it is also true that having your estate’s administration overseen by a Surrogate’s Court Judge is beneficial. For example, the Court will help ensure your estate administration is orderly and transparent to all beneficiaries. The Court will also ensure that any beneficiaries who are ‘under a disability’ i.e., under age 18 or mentally disabled, are represented by guardians to oversee their interests.
Wills and Trusts are not mutually exclusive options. Wills often include Trust language to provide for certain estate planning needs. For example, your Will may include a Trust for the management of money you leave to a minor grandchild or to a disabled son or daughter.
Your particular needs will determine whether a Will or Trust is best for you. Our experienced attorneys can help you create the plan that is best for you and your individual circumstances.