Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

What's missed in estate planning

Suffolk County residents are often encouraged to plan for emergencies or retirement, but planning for death isn't commonly discussed even if it is inevitable. Failing to plan can cause numerous legal troubles, financial burdens and discord in the event of a loved one's passing.

All retirement accounts and insurance policies should have a named beneficiary, and naming a contingent beneficiary is essential. The default beneficiary should be named just in case the original beneficiary passes. Not naming a contingent beneficiary exposes the estate to creditors and probate, which can leave family members insecure. Questions like who should get the property, the children or the family could lead to a legal quagmire and countless legal expenses if not clearly outlined.

Heirs stand to be on the hook for taxes if the property is acquired for far less than market value, so land owned should be accurately assessed to avoid any missteps. All investments should be accurately tracked to ensure that the estate has the most current information on investments that could be passed on to heirs. Tax planning for transferring retirement funds to beneficiaries is often overlooked. Couples having balanced estates reduces tax liabilities, so it may be prudent to shift assets to the other spouse, putting it in the other party's name.

A residuary clause should also be stated in the will. People who may not have an accurate account of everything they own or could potentially own later in life should have one. A residuary clause encompasses any assets that may have been erroneously forgotten or otherwise omitted from a will or trust.

Wills and trusts are an essential part of estate planning. Legal questions surrounding powers of attorney and healthcare proxy are all considerations that should be accounted in estate planning. An attorney specializing in estate planning may be able to help minimize any inheritance tax risks or any other problems that could lead to costly court challenges and confusion if someone passes.

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