People in New York State who are thinking about the future and gauging the importance of estate planning might have preconceived notions about it. The news is rife with people who had significant assets and left an estate plan – a will or trust – that heirs or would-be heirs are displeased with. Of course, people who have a vast portfolio should make sure they have a comprehensive estate plan. For those who have a small estate, it is also wise to consider proper estate planning.
How an estate is classified as a “small estate”
If, at the time of death, a person’s property was worth less than $50,000, it is a small estate. Technically known as voluntary administration, it is irrelevant if there was a will or not. In many cases, there is a belief that a person’s assets were relatively low, but when it is calculated, it was larger than they anticipated. This may be true in cases where the person owned a home. When there is real property like this, the value can jump markedly and no longer be a small estate.
For those who have a small estate and no will (dying intestate) with real property, administration will be needed to oversee the property and determine how to allocate it. An executor will be the voluntary administrator if there is a will. For those who had a small estate and a will, the voluntary administrator files it in court. The rules are different when there is no will. Without a will, the closest person – a spouse, offspring, a sibling – will file it.
Estate planning is important regardless of the size of the estate
One of the last things a person wants when he or she dies is to have loved ones in a contentious battle over their possessions. This situation is not limited to people who have vast estates. It can happen to anyone, even those who believe they have a small estate and it will not be a problem to distribute the property with or without a will.
Understanding how to name an executor, designate beneficiaries, determine if a will or trust is preferable, and whether there should be an advance directive or power of attorney are all fundamental parts of the process. For assistance and guidance, a firm that is experienced in estate planning and probate can explain these matters and help with formulating solutions.