Upstate New Yorkers who do not have an estate plan may want to consider their options, particularly if they own assets or have a business. There can several components to an estate plan, and it helps to be familiar with them before speaking to a professional to create a will or trust.
If you have dependents, you may already have life insurance or disability insurance to protect your family in the event something happens to you. What you may not be familiar with is key person insurance. A business owner can get both key person life insurance and key person disability insurance, which would help protect the business if the owner became incapacitated or passed away. Key person insurance that names a business as a beneficiary can cover some business expenses for whomever takes over the business when you no longer can.
If you have a business, you will also need to think about what you want to happen to the business once you are no longer around. Do you want someone in your family to take over the business, or do you want it to be sold or shut down? If you co-own the business or want to pass the business along to someone else, it would be a good idea to speak with those individuals before you craft your estate plan.
Power of attorney
Business owners and non-business owners alike should consider designating someone to have power of attorney in financial and/or medical situations. A person with power of attorney can make decisions on your behalf when you are incapacitated, including end-of-life decisions.
When creating an estate plan, you also need to decide whom you most want to benefit when it comes to taxation. Depending on the type of trust fund you create, you could save your beneficiaries a lot of money in taxes and probate costs. Alternately, you could create a trust that would give you more of a tax benefit during your lifetime. If you are unsure of whether you even need a trust fund or whether a last will and testament would suffice, an estate planning attorney can help you walk through your options.