ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Amid the health concerns of the COVID-19 pandemic many people have made the decision to put their financial wishes in writing.
CPA Scott Adair from the New York State Society of CPAs discussed the trend and what you need to know about estate planning.
“Wills and trusts are two separate and distinct documents,” Adair said. “They are really two key documents in your estate planning tool kit. They assist you in protecting your assets and bequeathing to your heirs besides your spouse at this point in time.”
Adair said it’s important that your wishes be in writing. “It’s also important that it is witnessed by somebody – especially on the last will and testament piece of it. You certainly need to involve attorneys and/or financial advisors in going through a process of figuring out and identifying all of the assets that you have, that you own, that you could be bequeathing to somebody. Certainly, the trust is something that happens while you’re alive and can continue beyond your passing. The last will and testament starts effectively when you pass.”
The danger of not putting your wishes in writing is that someone else will decide what happens to your money or belongings. “A last will and testament always goes through a court process called probate,” explained Adair. “They determine whether or not it’s reasonable, the things that you’ve assigned to folks. But it certainly allows you to avoid the potential pitfalls of not having something and having – effectively – the courts decide where your assets go to or even more importantly caring for your children in the case of a last will and testament – making sure those things are documented so that your wishes, your requests get honored at your passing.”