Estate & Legacy Planning
Wills, Trusts, and Estates
Planning For Everyone You Love and Everything You Have
Here is the first question you need to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you need an estate plan:
Do you really know what happens, legally, to your loved ones, your money, and everything else you care about if something unexpected were to happen to you?
If you do not know exactly what would happen to everyone you love and everything you own, then the first step is to find out exactly what would happen legally and financially so that you can decide if you are happy with the current state of your affairs.
Here are the facts: If you suddenly pass away without plans for your estate, your family will need to probate your estate in court, which means that your state’s laws will determine which of your immediate relatives (spouse, children, parents, and siblings) can inherit your property and how much they’re entitled to inherit, regardless of what you actually want or were considering while you were alive.
Most people want to avoid this scenario not just because they want to divide their estate according to their preferences, but because it can create a costly, time-consuming, and confusing court process for their family to navigate. If you have minor children, probate court is also tasked with assigning them to a guardian because you left no preferences for whom you wish to care for your kids. Sometimes, this guardian can be a relative you don’t trust – or even a stranger.
You might be thinking that you’re too young, healthy, or don’t have enough money to think about estate planning right now. It’s an unfortunate myth that estate plans are only for some people when in fact everyone should have something planned for the future.
Every person should, at an absolute minimum, have a will in place. A will can be a relatively simple document that establishes your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets when you die. A will may also specify other wishes you have, such as instructions for the care of minor children.
Many people, however, need a comprehensive estate plan that goes much further than just a will. Not only can an estate plan provide instructions for the distribution of your assets, but it can help you and your loved ones pay substantially less in taxes, court costs, and fees. A carefully crafted estate plan can also protect the gifts you leave to your loved ones from creditor claims, taxes, divorce and other disasters. To accurately determine your estate planning goals and needs, you should schedule an appointment with an experienced estate planning attorney in NYC.
GUIGA LAW CAN HELP
OUR 6-STEP ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS
Our 6-step process is designed to guide you step-by-step so that you feel less overwhelmed and more in control. We communicate openly and as much as you need throughout the process to keep you accountable for implementing what you decide is best for your family to ensure your plan actually works when you need it to. All our plans include—at no additional cost—substantial extras to make sure your human, spiritual and intellectual assets, along with your important values and stories are passed down to your loved ones. At no additional charge, we review your plan every three years and keep you informed about changes in the law and about other issues that affect your family and your wealth.
I have a Will, isn't that enough?"Having a will is great, but the unfortunate truth is that a Will is not enough to keep your family out of court and conflict. The saying goes: “Where there is a Will, there is a Probate.” Furthermore, it is important to remember that a Will only focuses on what happens after you die, but what happens if you were ever to become incapacitated? A Will, unfortuantely, does not help your loved ones figure out your affairs in that situation. To decide whether having a Will adequately protects the things you have and the people you love, Schedule an appointment today and we'll be happy to discuss.
Should I have something other than a Will to protect my children?Unfortunately the traditional model of estate planning doesn’t adequately protect minor children in all worst-case scenarios. Simply naming guardians in a will is not enough! It doesn’t direct who has authority to care for your children short-term if your long-term guardians take time to locate. It doesn’t apply at all in the event of your incapacity, only if you die. It doesn’t give clear guidance to your guardians on the values that are important to you and how you’d like for your children to be raised. Click here to learn more about how we protect your children.
What is an Estate Plan?Estate planning is the process by which you plan for the management and transfer of your assets both during and after your life. When done properly, estate planning minimizes taxes, legal fees and interference by the state. Most importantly, a carefully crafted estate plan can eliminate family conflict and bring your loved ones even closer if something happens to you.
Do I need an Estate Plan or Trust if I don't have a large estate?It depends! There is a misconception that you only need an estate plan or a trust if you are rich, but how much money and assets you have is not the most important factor when deciding if you need an estate plan. The truth is, whether or not you need an estate plan depends on your individual goals and wishes for what will happen after you pass away. At Guiga Law, we don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach for our clients. We would be more than happy to talk through your wishes and goals so please schedule a complimentary 15-minute consultation so we can help you understand your options.
What is probate?Probate is the court proceedings that oversee the transfer of assets from the deceased to the deceased’s heirs or beneficiaries. Probate can be thought of as the plan for those who failed to create an estate plan. Every state has its own probate court system where a judge gets involved and picks who oversees the process, making sure your assets go to the entitled heirs. A probate court also makes decisions when someone cannot take care of themselves because they are a minor or become incapacitated. A probate judge gets to select the person in charge of your assets, body, or medical decisions. Probate proceedings can be costly and are publicly available (so your affairs can be seen and heard by anyone who wants to attend). Guiga Law can help you avoid probate by putting a plan in place for you that will make sure your wishes about your assets or medical care are carried out exactly how you plan. Get Started with Guiga Law Today!
How much does an Estate Plan cost?Most estate plans fail because people “shop around” based on price (because they don’t know any other way to shop for an estate plan), and end up with a set of documents that don’t actually work when they are needed. We believe that you should think critically about working with an attorney who tells you exactly what your plan would cost before knowing anything about you, your loved ones, and your goals We’ve priced our estate planning at the intersection of affordability and effectiveness. That’s why we start all our plans with a Whole Life Planning Session to learn more about you and your goals. It’s not possible to give you an exact “standard price” for your plan because your personalized plan isn’t “standard”– it’s tailored to you. However, we can provide a fee range of what our plans typically cost, so you’ll have a better idea of the fee you might choose. We have three levels of comprehensive plans ranging between $2,000 and $8,000 depending on your goals and the choices you make during the Whole Life Planning Session. Whether you work with us or another estate planning attorney, we urge you not to “shop around” based on price, but rather which attorney will help you make informed, empowered, educated decisions for the people you love.
How long does the estate planning process take?The typical process takes 4-6 weeks from start to finish: from your first appointment to the signing ceremony. At your first appointment, you will meet with us, ask questions, and decide whether to move forward with the peace of mind that your family is protected. We will discuss the exact fixed fee -- with NO SURPRISES -- once we determine your needs and goals. Visit our Estate & Legacy Planning page to see our 6-step process. Once your estate plan is signed and finalized the lifetime relationship we maintain with our clients starts. We stay in touch, host special client only webinars, and perform no-charge, three-year review meetings with you, so your plan always stays up-to-date.