Everyone should do some basic estate planning—that is, planning to make sure that your wishes are followed after your death, your family is spared unnecessary expense and delay, and someone you trust will be in charge if you are ever incapacitated and unable to manage things on your own.
The basic estate planning documents that most New Yorkers need are:
Many New York residents should consider two other estate planning topics as well:
Avoiding probate after your death. Unless you do some planning ahead of time, your family may have to conduct a probate court proceeding after your death, to get court approval to transfer your assets to the people who inherit them. For many people, probate is a waste of money, easily avoided with a living trust or other simpler methods.
Minimizing New York estate tax. Currently, New York imposes its own estate tax if you die leaving behind more than a certain amount of property. It's a high threshold (see below), but it's lower than the federal estate tax threshold. So even if you don't have to worry about federal estate taxes, your estate might still owe New York state estate taxes. If you think this might apply to your estate, talk to an experienced lawyer about methods of reducing the bill.
The articles below cover the basics of estate planning in New York.
In New York, a will can help you protect your family and your property.
Make a Living Trust in New York
Learn how to make a living trust in New York.
New York Restrictions on Who Can Serve as Executor
Learn the rules about who can be your executor in New York.
Intestate Succession in New York
If you die without a will in New York, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” laws.
If you leave behind more than $6.58 million, your estate might owe New York estate tax—and watch out for New York's estate tax "cliff."
ABLE Accounts in New York: A Savings Plan for People With Disabilities
New York's ABLE program, NY ABLE, helps those with special needs save money while remaining eligible for disability benefits.
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Making a Financial Power of Attorney in New York
Know what a New York financial power of attorney can do for you.
New York Power of Attorney Laws
A durable POA allows someone to help you with your financial matters if you ever become incapacitated—here's how to make one in New York.
New York offers a probate shortcut for "small estates." This makes it easier for survivors to transfer property left by a person who has died.
Probate court proceedings can be long, costly, and confusing. Learn how New York families can save time, money, and hassle
Death With Dignity in New York
New York failed to pass a death with dignity law that would have allowed terminally ill patients to request life-ending medication.
How to Become an Organ Donor in New York
To be part of the solution to the ongoing need for donated organs and tissues in New York, take the following steps to become a donor after your death.
Burial and Cremation Laws in New York
Everything you need to know about burial and cremation in New York.
Learn the rules that govern home funerals in New York.
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