Beginning the estate plan can be a daunting prospect, especially if you don’t have any experience with lawsuits, courts, or the legal process in general. A lot of people come to the estate planning process with a lot of misperceptions about exactly what is involved.
Some people, for example, are afraid that, after making a plan, the court will not approve it, or that you might run into trouble and have to spend a lot of time in a courtroom.
While such fears are understandable, they are also misguided. When you and your attorney craft an estate plan, you won’t have to spend a lot of time worrying whether a court will cause you any difficulty. Here is why.
The Planning Process
It might be easiest to understand estate planning as simply a way of making choices in a deliberative, concrete method. As a capable adult, there are some kinds of decisions you have the right to make without asking anyone else’s permission. However, the law says that you have to make these decisions in a specific way.
For example, if you want to make inheritance choices through a will, you are free to do so without asking anyone else’s permission. However, New York law says that while you can make almost any inheritance choices you want, you have to make sure that the will you make complies with specific requirements. If it doesn’t, your inheritance choices will be left up to pre-existing laws over which you have no control.
Another common question a lot of people have about the estate planning process involves the role of notaries. A notary is someone licensed by the state of New York who has the ability to notarize documents. Notarization is simply a process in which people signing documents can not only prove their identities, but can also swear or affirm that the statements they make in the document are accurate.
Notaries do not act as decision-makers. In other words, they don’t determine if what you say in the document is true or accurate. A notary is simply there to ensure that you are the person you say you are, and that you claim the document is truthful. While many estate planning documents must be notarized, not all of them will be.
Most people would prefer to avoid lengthy and expensive court proceedings to settle their estate when they die. However, many estate plans require court involvement upon a settlement of the estate. Fortunately, there are estate planning options that can ensure your estate will never have to go to court. If you would like to discuss those planning options, or if you are concerned that your estate planning situation might require court involvement, contact our offices so we can discuss situation with you.