In the fast-paced, competitive environment that is New York City, it is easy to put peripheral issues on the back-burner. As a young adult in New York City, you are probably focused on school, your career, or your personal life. While it may not seem like a priority to you, creating an estate plan should be high up on your to-do list because a comprehensive estate plan can offer you a number of benefits.
An experienced estate planning attorney should be able to create your estate plan, as well as help you make amendments to that plan down the line. Maybe you are planning on getting married and having children one day, or maybe you are renting now but plan on buying a house soon. Regardless of what the variables in your life are, an estate planning attorney can help you navigate the path to creating a strong estate plan that will cover you both now and later.
Benefits of an Estate Plan
If you are a younger adult, you may be wondering why an estate plan is necessary. That’s a fair question. For example, if you are renting, single, and have no children, what could an estate plan possibly do for you?
An estate plan should go beyond simply distributing your assets once you die. While that may be important for you, your estate plan should go even further. It is also worth noting that an estate plan can be set up to change as your circumstances change.
You can name successor beneficiaries and fiduciaries, as well as account for any future children you may have. By naming successors, you can be sure that if an agent is unable to serve, or if a beneficiary predeceases you, that there will be someone else in line to care for you or inherit your assets. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you account for these what-ifs to ensure that your estate plan can stay relevant despite any changes that may occur in your life.
Young and Single
For young, single people in New York, your needs may vary from other estate planning prospects. For example, perhaps you rent and have fewer assets to your name. You could still benefit greatly from documents such as power of attorney for finances and power of attorney for healthcare.
Those two documents are important for everyone, but perhaps more so for single adults. The reason for this is because there is no person who is automatically authorized to care for you in the event of incapacitation. While your family members will certainly have a say, it’s very possible that they may disagree about your care.
There are other things to consider as well. What would happen to you in the event that you become incapacitated? Who would pay your rent? Who would consult with doctors to make medical decisions on your behalf? These are questions that powers of attorney for finances and healthcare can answer. With these documents, you can name a trusted individual to manage these affairs for you. In doing so, you can be certain that you will be adequately cared for by a trusted person in the event of an emergency.
When naming people to assume these roles, you can also name back-ups who can serve in the event your first choice is unable to serve. Naming successor agents can ensure that there will always be someone who is able to care for you in the event you are temporarily unable to. This can help you account for any future uncertainties.
Young and Married
You may be young, in love, and newly married. What better way to kick off your union than by creating an estate plan with your spouse? In New York, your spouse would inherit from you even without a will, but an estate plan will both allow you to describe exactly what assets will go to your spouse, as well as designate powers of attorney to assist you in the event of an emergency.
Perhaps your spouse is the person you want to designate as your power of attorney, or perhaps it is another trusted individual. Nevertheless, you can name a power of attorney for finances and for healthcare. These two documents offer a strong safety net that can protect you while you are most vulnerable. A power of attorney for finances can pay bills for you, collect payment from others, enter into contracts, or tend to any other financial needs you may have. The power can be as broad or narrow as you would like.
The power of attorney for healthcare can name a trusted individual to make medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated. It’s important to plan for the possibility, however remote, that you and your spouse become incapacitated at the same time. Each of you having a named power of attorney who can make medical decisions on your behalf can prove pivotal. We recommend consulting with an estate planning attorney who can help you determine the best course of action when delegating powers of attorney.
For newly married couples who may have children down the line, it is never too early to create your estate plan. For example, say you are married with one child right now but you and your spouse plan on having two more. The two future children can be accounted for in an estate plan created today to ensure those children can inherit their fair share. The language can be flexible enough to still be valid in the event that you were to have fewer or more than your planned number of children.
Young With Children
Those with children, especially young children, have perhaps the most pressing needs of all estate planners. While the documents explained above are still important, an estate plan can also name a guardian for your minor children in the event you become unable to care for them. Without a properly named guardian, the court would appoint someone to be the guardian in the event a guardian becomes necessary. Mind you, the court’s decision may not be who you would have chosen. The only way to have a say in the appointment process is to name a guardian ahead of time.
Aside from guardianship, your estate plan will also lay out the distribution of your assets. A carefully thought-out estate plan could name conditions for how and when you would like your children to receive their inheritance. You can also name someone to manage that inheritance while they are still minors, and even into young adulthood if desired. That person would help make sure the money you leave behind for the children is properly spent on the children.
Remember, too, that it is entirely possible to account for future life changes in your new estate plan. For those with young children, you can include language to account for future children, as well as name backups to serve in important roles. You can name a successor guardian, successor powers of attorney, or successors for any other role outlined in your estate plan. This should eliminate the need to run back to your lawyers office every time a change happens in your life. A well-drafted plan should afford you these freedoms.
Think You Don’t Have Time?
Since New York signed a law permitting electronic notarization, the estate planning process has become easier than ever. As a busy New Yorker, you probably don’t have the time to miss your subway, much less sit in a lawyer’s office to create an estate plan. At Rosenblum Law, we are well prepared to assist you remotely throughout the entire process. The process of creating an estate plan has never been more efficient.
Allowing for electronic notarizations allows New Yorkers to get their important legal documents notarized remotely. There is no need to drive to a lawyer’s office or track down a notary on your own. If you didn’t have the time to create an estate plan before, we recommend reaching out to an attorney because with these new laws, you may have the time now, especially with a fully remote process available as an option.
How Do I Account for Changes in the Future?
For those in early adulthood, there is no telling what your future holds. Luckily, a comprehensive estate plan should include language and planning that account for potential changes that may happen. While, in many cases, a desired change can be made to an existing will or trust, a good estate plan should sufficiently account for the changes that may come your way.
In short, you can make some changes to a will or a trust. Some changes that may prompt an alteration to your estate plan are:
- Adding/Removing Beneficiaries
While both wills and trusts can afford you some freedom to handle your assets during your lifetime, a living trust can be especially useful on this front. A living trust will allow you to move assets in or out with ease. You can continue to buy or sell assets as you normally would. An action such as selling an asset will be easily accounted for by the trust. It’s as simple as this, if the asset is no longer there, the trust will act as if the asset never was there.
Wills can also afford you some flexibility. Take your home, for example. If your will says that your children are to inherit your house after you pass, that language will account for the house you own at the time of passing. If you decide to sell one house and move into another, the will can easily account for that.
The alterations that may need to be made primarily deal with inheritance structure. Since a well-crafted estate plan can account for changes such as future children, the need to change your inheritance structure may neve arise, even if you complete this process at an earlier age. Nevertheless, it can still be worthwhile to review your estate plan every so often to ensure that everything is how you want it. Well-crafted estate plans can last you for a lifetime. As such, the possibility of making an amendment somewhere down the line should not preclude you from getting this done now since the estate plan could last forever.
Think about an estate plan as a fire extinguisher for your kitchen. Fire extinguishers can last upwards of 12 years. The fact that you may need to change your fire extinguisher more than a decade in the future should not prevent you from getting one now. If an emergency happens now, you will be very glad that you have a fire extinguisher. Estate plans can certainly have a longer shelf life than 12 years, but they still may need to be readdressed down the line. This possibility should not preclude your proactivity now.
Why Should I Do This Now?
Estate plans offer benefits for every person over the age of 18. For a young adult in New York City who may be living away from their family, creating a portfolio of legal documents that can care for you in an emergency can be a valuable lifeline. Estate planning goes much further than directing the assets of someone when they pass. They can offer you numerous benefits during your lifetime and they can be a pivotal tool for your dearest family members. To set up an estate plan that can help you and your family for a lifetime, call Rosenblum Law today at 888-235-9021.