Dying without an estate plan can cause trouble down the road

Dying without an estate plan can cause trouble down the road

| Oct 28, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Movie fans in Williamsville, especially fans of the Marvel Universe, were saddened earlier this year to hear of the death of actor Chadwick Boseman due to colon cancer. However, we can learn something about estate planning from his tragic and untimely passing, because according to a CNBC report, Boseman did not have a will at the time of his death.

What happens when you die without a will?

If you die without a will in New York, your estate will be passed on to your heirs via laws of intestate succession that state who stands to inherit your estate. If no heirs can be found, your estate will go to the state. While some people may not find this troubling, those who have specific ideas of who they want to inherit what will want to execute a will.

What can estate planning do for me?

In an estate plan, you can include a will that states who you want to inherit your assets. If you have a child under age 18, you can name a guardian in your will stating who you want to care for them if you and your child’s other parent die before the child is grown.

Some people also chose to execute a trust when estate planning. Trusts are another vehicle for passing on your assets, but unlike wills they can bypass the probate process and can include contingencies on inheritance if you like.

A comprehensive estate plan will also include a durable power of attorney naming who can make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. Similarly, a health care power of attorney can name a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. You can also execute a living will, which states what kind of end-of-life care you wish to receive, including lifesaving measures.

A do-it-yourself estate plan can be a disaster

As this shows, a comprehensive estate plan contains many legal documents. It can be tempting to simply execute a do-it-yourself will online and leave it at that, especially if you feel you do not have much of an estate to deal with. However, even simple estates can lead to confusion when it comes time to try to enforce a do-it-yourself will, opening the door to potential litigation and the possibility that your will may be deemed invalid. Estate planning in New York is best left to the professionals, who understand this area of law and can help you execute a comprehensive, legally sound estate plan.