While not the most popular topic at cocktail parties, estate planning is important to everyone. No matter what stage of life – single, married or divorced (with or without kids) – estate distribution upon death will occur whether you are prepared for it or not. Therefore, it’s important to have an action plan to organize your affairs. If you or someone you know is considering these issues, contact an experienced Brooklyn estate-planning lawyer today for legal guidance.

Estate Planning Fundamentals

Below are seven things you should not overlook when putting together your estate plan.

  1. Have a basic plan in place, regardless of your net worth: no matter your stage in life, everyone has some asset – whether real or personal property – that will be left behind in the event of death.
  2. Cover all your bases: an estate plan is comprised of multiple elements including a will, a power of attorney, a trust, and a healthcare proxy. Being mindful of both state and federal governing laws will ensure these instruments will be valid.
  3. Figure out what you have to leave behind: take an inventory of all of your assets and liabilities, including where they are located. Consolidation of your assets may streamline this process.
  4. Create a will: a personal declaration of a person’s intentions about the disposition of property upon death, a will provides control over what happens and can avoid the results that would occur under local intestate law.
  5. Consider a trust: a trust can complement a will and may provide benefits such as minimizing gift and estate taxes, distribution of assets without the delay or publicity of probate court, and place conditions on how and when assets should be distributed.
  6. Find out tax implications: the federal estate tax exemption in 2014 was $5.34 million for each individual (minus any taxable gifts that were given during one’s lifetime, which often includes amounts given to irrevocable trusts or direct gifts over $14,000 to individuals). Understanding the tax implications for both you and your heirs is crucial to estate planning.
  7. Don’t wait: while the process may seem scary, estate planning is important and laying the foundation early can make it more manageable in the future.

Putting together a comprehensive estate plan can be overwhelming. The good news is you don’t have to go at it alone. Surrounding yourself with competent and experienced professionals will make the process go much more smoothly.

Contact a Brooklyn Estate Planning Lawyer

While the topic of estate planning may be both foreign and uncomfortable, the management and distribution of assets upon death should not be overlooked. With years of experience advising clients on estate planning matters, the attorneys at Alatsas Law Firm can provide legal guidance to ensure your intentions are followed. Call (718)-233-2903 or fill out an online contact form today to schedule your initial consultation.

Ted Alatsas
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Trusted Brooklyn, New York Family Law Attorney helping NY residents with Elder Law and Asset Protection
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