Do I need an Estate Plan?
Some common concerns and considerations.
The questions and topics general discussed during a consultation include
but are in no way limited to:
Should I create an Estate Plan?
Upon my death, or as my health fails, I want to protect and control my
family, assets and wealth. I want to maintain control of my affairs as
much as possible. I am aware that there are risks to my accumulated wealth
such as nursing homes costs, Probate expenses, attorney fees, and taxes.
These expenses will reduce the money available to my family and my beneficiaries.
An Estate Plan will allow me to transfer my wealth efficiently. I do not
want my money spent unnecessarily on nursing homes, lawyers, or probate.
If these expenses can be avoided, I can save my beneficiaries and surviving
family members’ significant amounts of money.
When is the right time to get an Estate Plan?
When I have minor children. Who will be their Guardian?
When I have assets or wealth. When I die, who will get what? Are my assets
at risk? Nursing homes ($141,216.00 average yearly cost), taxes, and Probate
costs are expenses and risks that I worry about. I am not sure which risks
might affect me and how much. Which risks pose the greatest threat to me?
Am I married?
- Do I know who will die first?
- Will my surviving spouse have an Estate Plan?
- Will the plan efficiently (cost, timeliness, and limited exposure to nursing
home care) transfer wealth to the next generation or beneficiary?
- Will my spouse re-marry?
I am single. Do I have close family members?
- Are they older than me? See “Parents and other relatives” below.
- Can they help me if I need their help?
- Without the obligation of family members can I be more creative with my
Do I have children?
- Will they be my beneficiaries?
- Will they waste what I give them?
- Should I skip my children and give to my grandchildren?
- Will my kids be able to retire, or retire more comfortably, with my inheritance?
Is an efficient transfer of wealth (Estate Plan) more important because of this?
Do I have grandchildren?
- Will my grandkids be named beneficiaries (directly or indirectly)?
- Are they more responsible than their parents?
- Can they finish college debt free as a result of my inheritance? Is an
efficient transfer of wealth (Estate Plan) more important because of this?
Do I have step-children or step-grandchildren?
- Do I want to or have to treat step-children the same as my children?
- My children have step-children and do I have to treat them the same as
- Will my spouse disinherit my child if I die first?
Do my parents have an Estate Plan?
- Why have my parents delayed creating an Estate Plan?
- Is there a family issue they are afraid of addressing and resolving?
- Do my parents fear losing control?
- Why do my parents refuse to talk about an Estate Plan?
- Am I caring for my parents and children at the same time? I know as a caretaker
for my parents my health risks increase and quality of life may decrease.
Family members with problems:
- Will my children or grandchildren use their inheritance to hurt themselves
through drug use or other self-destructive behavior?
- Do my children or grandchildren receive state assistance that might be
jeopardized if they receive assets?
Parents and other relatives:
Naming older relatives (parents): If I name relatives that are older than me as a beneficiary will my inheritance
be used to pay for their nursing home or simply pass from my Estate Plan
to their Estate and possibly benefit people I do not know or have strong
feelings for? I can structure my Estate Plan so my parents are well cared
for while they are alive without risking my assets to their nursing home
expenses or pass through my parent’s Estate.
Naming younger relatives: If I name a young adult will they have sufficient life experience to
preserve what I give them? Protecting young adults from themselves is
often a primary concern of an Estate Plan.
- Do I know someone I trust to care for my pets so they do not end up in
a shelter? Someone who can and will provide for them such as food, clothing,
- Do I want to provide sufficient funds so that my pet’s caretakers
can care for my pets?
- Do I own a home?
- Any other real estate?
Do I own real estate outside of New York?
- Owning property in different states creates the likelihood that a Surrogate
Court proceeding will need to take place in each state that property is owned.
- Is there equity in my real estate holdings?
- Will this equity be at risk or used to pay for a nursing home if I need
nursing home care?
- Would I rather preserve this equity for my children, grandchildren, etc.?
- Can I change terms in future? The ability to determine who gets what from
your Estate Plan is a power that you never give up.