As with most legal questions, the issue as to the expense of estate planning is not a simple one to answer. There are many components to estate planning and they are largely dependent upon the client’s needs and wishes, as well as the nature of their assets and how they are held. At the very least, the client should have a basic estate plan which encompasses a Last Will and Testament, a Durable Power of Attorney, and a Living Will with Health Care Proxy.
These documents are the basic and most essential documents that every person (or couple) should contemplate before proceeding with more elaborate estate planning tools. Quite often, this may suffice for the average person contemplating how his/her affairs should be handled when they die, or in the event they become incapacitated.
With recent changes in New York State, the New York estate tax threshold will be gradually increasing until 2019, when it will be the same as the federal estate tax threshold, which currently stands at 5.25 Million Dollars. In cases where persons are on the cusp of this figure in terms of assets which they hold in their name or jointly, the creation of an irrevocable trust may be the answer to alleviate some of these concerns. It can take various forms, but a common form is the irrevocable life insurance trust (ILIT), which can be created in conjunction with your life insurance company to ensure that upon your passing, the cash value of the policy will pass outside of your taxable estate. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist here.
To ensure the constant flow and management of your estate affairs, the creation of a revocable trust may be the answer to prevent assets being help up in probate. Assets transferred to a revocable trust can still be managed by the grantor, yet when that grantor passes away, that asset (i.e. home) remains in the trust and avoids the delay that the probate process can pose. It helps to ensure constant managerial control of the home or whatever assets or accounts are placed in trust.