The process of estate planning is to ensure the carrying out of your wishes after your death.
With proper planning, you can help your family avoid the sometimes lengthy and costly probate process.
Bank account designations
New York law allows you to designate a payable-on-death beneficiary on bank accounts, including savings and certificates of deposit. You remain in control of the accounts while you are alive, and upon your death, the beneficiary will claim direct access without going through probate.
Registrations for securities
If you own securities, such as stocks and bonds, you can register a transfer-on-death beneficiary. They will automatically inherit the securities and work directly with the broker rather than going through probate to take ownership.
Living trusts are similar to wills in that you can plan how you want to distribute your assets. However, wills must go through probate for validation, and a trust does not. You can designate beneficiaries for all your assets and even lay out plans for your funeral. Using a trust document, you will name someone to take over as trustee after your death. This successor trustee only takes control of the trust after your death.
Joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
Finally, you can also transfer assets directly to someone through joint ownership. Joint tenancy allows the transfer of property to the surviving owners when one dies. Tenancy by the entirety is relatively the same as joint tenancy but only applies to married couples.
Whether you have an asset-heavy estate or not, planning protects you and your family after your death.