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Rochester Estate Planning Law Blog

When can wills be revoked or altered in New York?

Even when New York residents take the steps in drafting estate planning documents, that does not mean that changes will not be desired or necessary as time passes. In many cases, the person does not realize what must be done to change a will and does not go through with it leaving confusion and disputes after he or she has died. Knowing how to revoke or alter a will is imperative should a circumstance arise in which it becomes necessary to do so.

If the testator intends to revoke or alter a will, it can be done by destroying the original will. To do so, the testator can burn, cut, cancel, obliterate, mutilate or destroy it. This can be done by the testator. It can also be done by another person if it is in the presence and under the direction of the testator. If this is the way it is destroyed, there must be two witnesses to prove that it was done at the testator's behest. Neither can be the one who did the acts to revoke it.

A legal dispute over an estate requires experienced legal help

The death of a loved one in New York can be difficult enough without legal wrangling as to the contents of their estate. However, it is an unfortunate reality that people will not hesitate to begin a legal dispute over who will receive what. This is not limited to large estates, but it can happen with more modest and small estates too. One certainty regardless of the size of the estate and what it contains is that any legal dispute, will contest or court battle requires help from an experienced law firm.

There are many reasons why a court battle might ensue over the estate of a testator. There could have been confusion as to what the person really wanted and vague language as to what was said and what was written could complicate matters further. Multiple wills could have been written. There might be assertions that there was an oral statement saying one thing and a written statement saying another. Or there could be financial entanglements that must be undone so the entire estate's worth can be gleaned.

Talking to your husband about creating a will

Discussing death with your spouse can be sad and frightening. Most husbands and wives do not want to think about a future without one another, and the thought of creating a will for your assets after you die seems too presumptuous.

Developing a will is a responsible, respectable process. Though you and your husband are likely to continue to spend a long, happy retirement together, tragedies occur, and preparing your loved ones can be a priceless gift. Discussing the creation of a will with your husband may prove to be an experience that ends with peace of mind and identification of your loved ones as beneficiaries.

Is there a kind way to disinherit a child?

Part of a parent's job is to provide for their children. However, as kids get older and start making their own decisions and leading their own lives, they need -- or want -- less from their parents.

As a result, many parents adjust their wills when children get older. In some cases, this can involve disinheriting a child. If you are considering this, know that there are ways to approach the situation so that you don't cause animosity or confusion for your loved ones.

Can I keep my estate planning documents secure online?

A growing number of New York residents and people across the nation are choosing to keep their important documents online. Some companies are offering services to help them with this endeavor. While it might be viewed as a natural progression and there are benefits to doing this, it is important to put very careful thought into whether it is a good idea.

Online storage could be beneficial for some. Estate planning documents should be kept in one place so there is easy access, but that does not necessarily mean it should be online. If the executor, the beneficiaries, and other important people in the testator's life know where they are and how to gain access to them, any location should be sufficient. People who are efficient with the web and electronic record keeping will likely be able to navigate this terrain. For some, however, the tried and true methods, such as a safety deposit box or a safe, might be preferable.

Predatory estate planning "help" should be avoided

New Yorkers are smart to take the necessary steps to have a quality estate plan, but one issue they frequently run into is that they do not know who to trust. Since the idea of death - whether it is imminent or not - can bring emotional pain and fear, there might be a few steps missed when getting help crafting an estate plan. Knowing what to look for regarding dangers and what is needed are key aspects to having an estate plan that serves its purpose and adheres to the goals of the testator.

Often, people do not even think they need to have an estate plan. This is a mistake that many make, and it costs their families after their death. For example, if there are issues, such as funeral plans, sentimental items that the person wants to remain in the family and go to a specific heir, special needs children, a business, property and more, an estate plan is vital. Older people could be taken advantage of when they are moving forward with an estate plan. Some unscrupulous people will seek to get a power of attorney to control the elderly person's possessions.

Children can help aging parents with estate planning

When a parent is aging and concerns about the future are arising, it can be difficult for children to discuss estate planning with them. However, it is necessary to have the discussion to ensure that the proper plans are in place for every reasonable eventuality. These include elder care issues, how inheritances are organized, who the beneficiaries are and other documents that can be essential. It might be awkward to have this discussion with parents, but being prepared can make it easier. Seeing a lawyer who understands these vital issues can also be helpful.

A child should know whether the parent has taken steps toward drafting estate planning documents. Documents that should be executed include a will, health care directive and a power of attorney. Many people are unprepared for a health issue or catastrophic injury and their children do not know what the parent's wishes are. Simply discussing these issues can be beneficial, as it hammers home how important it is. Knowing the parent's goals and agreeing to make them come to fruition is more effective than confronting the parent with demands.

Late chef's estate plan shows how he distributed various assets

When celebrities die, there is frequently a significant amount of attention paid to how their estate plan was formulated. Often, there is surprise at how much or even how little the person had in terms of assets. The structure of the estate plan will tell how they prepared for the future and positives and negatives should be taken from that plan and adapted to anyone who is moving forward with estate planning.

When the celebrity chef, writer and television host Anthony Bourdain died, his assets and the organization of his estate plan was discussed in the media. During probate, it was found that Mr. Bourdain's estate was worth slightly more than $1.2 million. His estate plan also provided useful information on how to prepare for the future.

Who Can Be Your Guardian

Guardianship is a legal relationship that more and more Americans are likely to need as they get older. A legal guardian is a person who has been granted the power to make personal decisions on behalf of another (known as the ward). A similar relationship known as a conservatorship involves granting someone power to make financial decisions for the ward. Together, these two instruments can help someone suffering from dementia or other disabling condition transfer authority to make the right choices on their behalf.

When Things Go Wrong

Challenging a will: Who can do it?

It is an unfortunate reality that when a New Yorker dies, there could be a legal dispute regarding their estate. However, people considering challenging a will might not know who has the right to do so. For example, a person who believes there should have been a bigger share awarded and is unhappy with how the property was allocated cannot simply challenge the will because of that and expect changes to be made.

There are reasons that a will can be challenged, and it is critical to understand them before moving forward. The challenge must be for valid legal reasons and done by an interested person. These include spouses, children, heirs, creditors, devisees, or anyone else with a property right. There are three basic categories of those who can make this challenge: beneficiaries in a previous will; beneficiaries in a subsequent will; or heirs if the person died without a will.

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Weinstein & Randisi
290 Linden Oaks, Ste. 200
Rochester, NY 14625

Toll Free: 800-768-1780
Phone: 585-310-1578
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