For many New York residents, creating an estate plan may be as simple as writing a Last Will & Testament, Power of Attorney, and Health Care Proxy. However, it is still important for testators to review these documents on a regular basis to ensure that it still meets their needs. This is because changes to tax or other laws could make it necessary to add to a plan or alter existing documents. For instance, the SECURE Act, which went in to effect as of January 1, 2020 made significant changes to the long-standing rules governing inherited IRAs; these changes could affect the way that a person approaches estate planning.
A comprehensive estate plan might be easier for an executor to carry out. This is because this person will know where to find important documents or how to distribute assets to heirs. For example, an executor may need to know a bank account number or the password to an online account to cancel a recurring payment. Executors may also need to know how to gain control of social media or other accounts so that they can be cancelled or frozen.
Wills or trusts that are written in a detailed, comprehensive manner could be easier for family members and others to decipher. This could minimize the chances of family infighting or other conflicts taking place. A will or trust can contain instructions as to how a funeral should take place or what should be done with a person’s body.
Ideally, individuals will review their estate plans at least once every three to five years or whenever a major life event occurs such as a birth, death, or divorce. An estate planning attorney may be able to help a person go through existing documents to ensure that they are still relevant. If any changes need to be made, an attorney may be able to make them in a manner consistent with state law.