It is not uncommon for people to make mistakes with estate planning. One way New York residents can avoid making estate planning mistakes is to consult with an attorney.
One mistake to avoid is not having an estate plan at all. People who die without a will leave what happens to their estate to the courts. The courts will determine who will act as executor and how the decedent's assets will be disbursed. It is also not unusual for married couples to not have a will in place because they believe that all assets will be automatically passed to the surviving spouse. However, this is incorrect.
Individuals should also have an estate plan in place in case they become incapacitated. The estate plan should include a health care power of attorney that authorizes a trusted individual to make medical decisions on another's behalf. It should also include a financial power of attorney what gives someone the authority to manage financial affairs in the event an individual is unable to do so on his or her own.
Another important component of an estate plan is a living will, which details what steps should be taken if a medical condition is fatal and the affected individual is in no condition to voice his or her wishes. Individuals who do not have any powers of attorney completed and who become incapacitated, leave their loved ones with the burden of petitioning the courts to designate a guardian, a process that can be expensive.
An estate planning attorney might consider the circumstances of a client and may recommend what legal devices should be completed in order to have an effective estate plan. The attorney might assist with drafting certain types of wills, trusts and powers of attorney. The attorney may also review existing estate plans for areas of improvement.