Estate planning is the legal process of managing your assets. It is created during your life to minimize taxes, avoid lawsuits, and properly distribute your assets after your death. This process is already difficult and time consuming and may be even more challenging for those without any children or other heirs to leave their assets to. This often results in individuals not planning their estates all together. What they don’t realize is that there are many options out there for those without beneficiaries.
One of the most basic documents in anyone’s estate plan is the Last Will and Testament. Without a Will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the intestate laws of your domicile state.
Your Last Will should very explicitly describe how you want your estate to be handled and distributed after your death. If you do not have any children or any other relative or friend who you would like to leave your estate, you can pick a charity and leave your estate to one or more non-profit organizations.
Another important and essential step in estate planning is to prepare a living will or Health Care Proxy. Many people are concerned with appointing someone who is not their family member. It is perfectly fine to pick a person who is not your family, but you can trust him or her to make informed decisions about your health decisions.
Next step is to establish a financial power of attorney, especially if you do not have any heirs. If you simply cannot find anyone to fulfil this responsibility, you can talk to your bank about naming them as your power of attorney. Though having a family or friend act as your agent through the power of attorney is free, banks will often charge a fee.
Once you have completed your initial estate planning, it is very important to keep it up to date. It is best to review your estate plan every five years. Many things can change over the years, including your marital and parental status. Many of my clients’ feelings have changed over the years towards potential beneficiaries and charities. To avoid any unwanted decisions being made, keep your estate plan simple and up to date.
Estate planning is there for your convenience and to make life easier for you and the people around you. Though it can be challenging, especially for those individuals without heirs, having a professional estate planning attorney to assist you will ease the process.
We, at Law Office of Inna Fershteyn & Associates, P.C., would be glad to assist you with your estate planning and assets protection matters. Please contact our office at 718-333-2394 if you have any questions about your estate planning or assets protection.