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Does Your Estate Need Planning?

Most people are under the misconception that their estate is not big enough to plan, or that they don’t have an estate that needs planning. Here is a short answer of which type of individual needs to plan their estate:

  • Anyone who owns property, whether personal property or real estate, which is important to them; and /or
  • Any person who has a child that is under 18 years of age.

People who engage in estate planning are not all rich. There are no qualifying factors, such as owning real estate or having a minimum net worth, to plan for your estate. Your estate plan can include any parcel of property – from a necklace to a vehicle to items with insignificant or priceless value such as family photographs or a collection of your favorite books.

Individuals with children under 18 years of age naturally will have estate planning worries. Who will raise your minor child in case of your passing or incapacity? What if you and the other parent die in a common accident before your child is of age of majority? Who will you name as the guardian, and how do you go about doing so? Legitimately, a natural or appointed guardian encompasses two distinctive roles when raising a minor child. The most basic and essential role is raising the child, making day-to-day decisions such as schooling, nutrition and health decisions on the minor’s behalf.

The second role involves the management of any property left to the minor or owned by the child. In the State of New York and most other states, children under 18 cannot have control over any substantial amount of property they own or are entitled to. Typically, the parents of the child name one adult in their estate planning devices that will serve in both capacities in case of their passing or incapacitation.

Assessing Your Personal Situation

When planning your estate, you must first realistically look at your particular situation. In drafting a solid plan, the following are a few preliminary questions that need to be asked: What is your marital status? Are you in a domestic partnership, a serious relationship, or are you single? Do you have children? Is the marriage you are currently in your second or third marriage? Do you have any stepchildren, adopted children, or any children from prior relationships? Are you in the process of getting a divorce, are you legally separated? Are there any grandchildren or nieces and nephews that you want to account for? Do you have any other family members or friend you want to leave property to? Are there any charities, causes, or organizations that are important to you?

These are not difficult questions for most people to answer, they don’t require much thought. While for others it may not be so simple. A peripheral concern people have is possible impending fights that occur between family members over property and assets. As frequently seen in movies and written in novels, the awkward situation between close ones does occur when a vast estate is at stake. An experienced New York trusts and estate lawyer can provide assistance with proper estate planning such as Will preparation and Trust drafting. New York Probate Attorney Kamilla Mishiyeva, Esq., represents clients in New York City and the surrounding counties in Trust and Estates matters, and Surrogate’s Court proceedings. You can contact her at (646) 736-6328 or email: kamilla@mishiyevalaw.com for an initial consultation.

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