For people in the Finger Lakes region and Rochester, New York, the process of creating an estate plan can seem daunting when first approached. Fortunately, your estate planning attorney will be there to help guide you through the process, and to answer all of your questions. While you go about creating your plan, there are several tips and ideas you can keep in mind that will help you keep the process in perspective. Here are several tips you might want to use.
Tip 1. Everyone has an estate.
A lot of people get tripped up over the notion of an “estate.” In the simplest terms, an estate is simply all the property or legal concerns you leave behind after you die. Everyone will leave behind an estate, and there are decisions you can make now that will affect how your estate is treated. Estate planning is simply the process of going about making those decisions now, and doing them in a specific manner, so that your choices will be protected after you are gone.
Tip 2. Not everyone becomes incapacitated, but you still need an incapacity plan.
An incapacity plan is a collection of devices that won’t necessarily control what happens to your estate, but rather, will control what you want to happen to you if you lose the ability to communicate or make choices. For example, should you one day suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, you will need to make decisions about the kind of health care you receive. Since you may no longer be able to make choices yourself, your incapacity plan will act as a stand-in.
Tips 3. Estate planning is a process, not a destination.
Let’s say that you meet with your estate planning attorney, go through all the required steps, and come away from the process with a comprehensive plan in place. While this is a significant accomplishment for which you should be proud, it’s also not the final step. Estate planning is an ongoing process. As your life changes, and as your choices, needs, and circumstances change, you will have to make sure that you also change your plan. While some elements of your plan may never require you to make any changes, other pieces might require significant updates as events warrant.
Tip 4. You cannot do it on your own.
The legal issues surrounding estate planning are getting more complicated every day. Not only do new laws come into existence, but court rulings, tax policy changes, and even advances in medical technology are constantly changing the way estate planning attorneys craft plans for their clients. You absolutely need to have a qualified estate planning attorney provide you with advice if you intend to create a comprehensive estate plan.