Discover the Basics Prior to Meeting with an New York Estate Planning Attorney



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by:  Tehila Mörtl

 

Broaching the topic of estate planning can be an emotionally difficult topic; however, it is important that all adults 18 and over give the matter due consideration.  At Advise & Protect Senior Care Consultants we are thoroughly aware that this is a particularly vital subject for seniors.  In considering this part of elder law planning, it is important to note that laws in most states are similar; yet, in New York for instance there are some details which differ from others; therefore, hiring New York Estate Planning Attorney is of the utmost importance. 

 

Last Will and Testament - Writing a Will & Special Needs Trusts 

A legally written will not only provides instructions as to how one’s elder wishes to divide their assets, one can also establish guardianship for heirs who are minors.  One of the first things to establish though is an executor, meaning an individual who will accept legal responsibility for seeing all debts are disbursed. 

Your will directs survivors as to how you want estate assets divided. In addition, if heirs include minor children, one can utilize their will to establish guardianship and may establish a Special Needs Trust as well.  First, however, an executor who will take legal responsibility for ensuring that debts are recompensed and assets, be they land, property, investments or monetary funds are distributed in accordance with your wishes needs to be named.  By utilizing the services of New York Estate Planning Attorney, one is assured that it is in proper order so no problems will arise when presented to a judge to verify any and all orders.

Though some might not realize it, trusts are no longer designated only to those of great wealth.  In fact, they have transmuted over the last decades to assist those of all income levels endure that assets are protected from creditors to ensure that which is bequeathed is passed on to their heirs in the terms he or she has set forward.

 

Probate

According to NY state law, even with a will, one’s estate must go through the probate process in Surrogate’s Court which will establish that all debts and taxes are paid and assets are apportioned appropriately.  Further, for those with $20,000 or less in assets and who do not own real estate there is an expedited probate procedure available to NY residents.  One can however avoid probate by working with an estate planning attorney to develop such as trusts, property transfers and joint ownership.  While uncertainty is certainly a concern regarding future tax rates, a qualified New York Estate Planning Attorney can advise how to best plan and take advantage of various significant opportunities.

 

Power of Attorney

The benefits of affording someone power of attorney allows for one’s financial affairs to be attended to in the case of an emergency in which one is medically or mentally unable to pay bills, selling of property, etc. should funds need to be made available to cover medical treatment and/or housing.  Please keep in mind, power of attorney can include as many or few powers as one wishes to designate. 

 

Advance Directive and Medical Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Wills 

While a general Power of Attorney addresses financial aspects, a Medical Power of Attorney or Advance Directive designates someone to ensure health care decisions you have established are followed as you have stated, in the event that you become incapacitated.  There are actually two different types of Advance Directives.  First, a Living Will ascertains particular medical care instructions such as what you do and do not want under specific circumstances.  Meanwhile, a Health Care Proxy or Living Will provides a designated individual with the legal power to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.

 

Final arrangements 

One particular area often overlooked is a Final Instruction Letter or portion of a will which specifies your choice of funeral or memorial service, burial, cremation or medical donation in part or whole of one’s remains.  Family and loved ones find it a tremendous kindness when their elder takes the time to register for medical donation and document such wishes as designating final resting place.

 

Additional Considerations 

  • Small business owners are advised to create a succession plan to ensure the business remains in place and continues after their death.
  • Sadly, many do not realize the loss of income following a loved one’s passing.  To ensure a spouse or dependent child’s financial security, a life insurance policy should be in place.
  • Estate taxes are not a concern for those who have less than $5,000,000 in assets.
  • To provide for one’s pet(s) and/or charities, such as endowments are included in his or her Last Will and Testament. 
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  • Out of respect for our client’s needs, after establishing each individual’s needs, Advise & Protect offers referrals to professional, experienced and caring New York Estate Planning Attorneys at no charge.  Please call 646-820-9202 today to discuss your personal needs with one of our Senior Care Consultants so that we may provide a referral to a senior law attorney who best meets your needs.

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