Why Estate Planning Is the Biggest Gift You Can Give This Holiday Season
Come December, some people have a pile of gifts under the tree. Some people get a gift every day for eight days in a row. TV commercials are busy giving us all great “gift ideas”.
Well, there are gifts, and there are gifts. The biggest gift you’ll ever give is the one you won’t see opened: your estate. You can’t put it under the tree, but you can wrap it up neatly and make sure it goes to the people you intend.
However much you may or may not have, you can make a real impact by directing where it all goes when you’re finished with it. If you don’t formalize any plans, then it will all to your nearest relatives, in particular proportions mandated by law. The process can take months or years, depending on your relatives’ capabilities, and the state of the bureaucracy at the time. And for some people, that’s fine.
But perhaps you are close to one sibling and estranged from the other. Perhaps your own kids have done well for themselves and it’s really your sister’s kids who could use some funds for college. Perhaps you’ve always given $25 a year to the museum and would love to make a much larger gift.
And perhaps there are issues that you don’t know about – will your estate be taxed? Will your beneficiaries be able to receive the funds easily, or will it take a lot of legwork and legal fees? Can a well-intentioned bequest actually cause someone harm? The answer to each of these questions is: maybe, and you won’t know unless you ask.
When you’re with your loved ones for the holidays, it’s a good time to look around and think about who you’d like to make the big gift to when the time comes. You thought carefully when you picked out that sweater – you should give all your gifts with the same level of care.
Ron Meyers graduated from Columbia University in 1992, from Harvard Law School in 1999, and has been practicing law in New York City since 2000. He worked for several years in major law firms on commercial real estate matters, such as the World Trade Center, the creation of the High Line and the redevelopment of Times Square. He turned to private-client work in 2007, opening his own practice in 2009, where has now served over 1,000 clients. He and his team handle estate planning, probate and residential real estate matters for individuals, couples, & families of all kinds.