April 2010 News: New York Estate Planning News

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Here's an interesting article from the New York Times. It speaks to the importance of reviewing your estate planning documents, on a periodic basis.

Although you might not necessarily need a New York estate planning lawyer to draft a will, it's sometimes wise to have one review your will. Here' s the thing-- circumstances change. As a result, things you may have put in your will once upon a time may no longer be relevant.

It's important to do a full inventory of your assets. The main reason, as any New York estate lawyer will tell you, is because sometimes, you may be unaware of the ownership of certain assets. You may believe that you are entitled to a certain asset when, in fact, you may not actually have any valid title or claim to that asset. The result might then be that your beneficiaries may be left empty handed.

New York estate planning attorneys would be shocked to know that 65 percent of Americans  don't have a will. Perhaps New York estate planning lawyers take the concept for granted, assuming that everyone understands estate planning. Or perhaps many New York estate planning attorneys are just naive about the fact that estate planning urgency isn't conveyed as it should be.

Whatever the reason, planning one's estate should not be ignored. There are several components to estate planning. Perhaps the simplest estate planning document-- and essentially the most basic-- is the will.

New York estate planners are starting to sense the effects of the estate tax lapse.

 But they're not the only ones. Charities are feeling the pressure, too.

The estate tax rules, which were put into place by the Bush Administration in 2001, have now sunset. What this means for the average Joe or Jane is that if they were to die in 2010, their estate would pay no estate tax.

Then again, the average Joe or Jane's estate probably wouldn't pay estate tax, anyway. Estate tax has generally been a tax on larger net worth estates, usually on estates valued in the millions.

New York probate lawyers knew this was coming. The estate of Norman F. Levy has been hit with a $61 million estate tax bill by the IRS.

You may have heard of Norman F. Levy if you followed the Bernie Madoff debacle. He was a close friend and alleged mentor to Bernie Madoff, until Madoff swindled Levy out of millions of dollars.  

Although Levy was no longer alive to see the unraveling of the Bernie Madoff scandal, Levy's heirs certainly were. And his heirs suffered as a result of Madoff.

As did the charities that Norman Levy's estate supported.

Last week, New York estate planning attorneys commemorated "Health Care Decisions Day."

The day of commemoration was largely part of a national campaign to encourage Americans to plan for the end of their life. The truth is that many Americans, and incidentally, many New Yorkers, don't fully understand the complex interplay of events and decisions that need to take place in health care planning, or in planning for the end of life.

And while health care planning and estate planning are largely assumed to be necessary for older individuals, these areas often go ignored among younger, healthier individuals.

So, you're contemplating life insurance?

Confused?

What is a term life policy? What is a whole life policy?

While this blog post really can't help you decipher the terminology, we can tell you this: Most New York estate planning lawyers are very good with breaking down these concepts and explaining them to you.

Life insurance has many purposes. It essentially serves as a shield to protect family members and loved ones in the event that something happens to you. But there is much talk among New York estate planning attorneys as to which type of life insurance is necessary or beneficial.

And everyone has their two cents to put in on this issue.

What is 'Estate Planning'?

You've probably heard stories about families fighting over the wills of rich, dead people. Hey, you've probably even heard of people fighting over the wills and estates of people that weren't so wealthy.

It's a sad reality for many New York estate planning attorneys. Families can often be torn apart after fighting over the distribution of assets upon the death of a loved one. And while you can never truly be certain that you've done an adequate job shielding your loved ones from this unnecessary drama, you've heard about planning your estate.

What is "estate planning"?