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As we continue in our elder law series, please join me as we discuss how an New York Estate Lawyers can be of service and what questions to ask. For those unfamiliar with the depth of this subject, estate planning far exceeds simply composing a will. If done correctly, organizing assets through estate planning can not only prevent ones estate becoming the property of the government but can eliminate any concern about dispute among heirs, both of which will not only assist but be one of the greatest gifts you can leave your loved ones.
- First impressions – Evaluation of an attorney begins with your first phone call. Is the phone answered immediately or must you leave a message? Most prefer a law office in which an actual person answers calls and can provide information on at least some questions in short order. Also inquire as to whether the attorney’s office has an emergency number for after-hours calls.
- During initial meeting, the estate lawyer should discuss and provide a well-defined plan of steps for following meetings. Has the attorney left you feeling confident and secure in the services he or she will provide?
- What is included in fees – What services are included in the estate planning fee? Will this include future review of documents? One must also inquire as to what additional fees will be charged in the event that changes are later necessitated. Inquire as to whether continued direction is offered on a continuing basis. Does this attorney offer a membership program or an ongoing service program for continued/ assistance without additional fees? Will you be required to pay for reproduction of documents and any faxes sent?
- Smart choice advice – Not only do good New York estate lawyer offer legal advice and prepare appropriate documents but, should also has enough experience to offer guidance on insurance purchase/changes, retirement and other perplexing decisions.
- Intangible assets – Does this attorney offer a means by which you can secure and pass on recorded or written messages to family members and other loved ones? This can include stories, family history, experience and personal acumens.
- Securing inheritance left to heirs – One great concern for those who have children, grown or not, that are disabled and unable to care for themselves is establishing a designated caregiver or making provisions for a care facility. In such cases, it is vital to immediately establish if the New York estate lawyer you are meeting with can arrange to provide thorough care planning including documentation you can keep on hand as to who has legal authority to make decisions regarding your child’s care if you are unable.
- You might also want to establish means by which one can ensure that your heir’s inheritance cannot be lost through divorce or lawsuit. Does this lawyer have experience in employing such plans?
- Guarantee of service – I must admit, in writing articles for Advise & Protect blogs I am often learning right along with our readers. For instance, it was news to me that there are lawyers working on flat-fee or package basis who offer a guarantee in which one can receive a refund if unhappy with services provided. This, of course, does not include situations in which litigation is involved. As with any other questions you might have, don’t hesitate to ask if the New York estate lawyer offers such a guarantee.
Additional important concerns and information:
- Know how long creditors have to file a claim against an estate. For instance, in New York creditors can make claims against an estate for seven months following decedents passing.
- Some might wonder if there is a time limit in which a probate must be complete. While it is recommended to conclude probate as soon as possible, there are factors (i.e. dispute between heirs, complex estates) which can prolong proceedings.
- Further regarding probate, while there is no designated deadline by which one must file or probate a will in New York for example, if not completed in a timely manner this can result in negative effects on creditors. The consequences to the estate being penalties levied against the individual in charge of settling the will.
- The appointed executor is warranted a commission for services provided. The amount of remuneration is based on the value of the estate. That said, if the executor is also an heir, in the interest of saving on income taxes, one might wish to forego commissions.
- While a former spouse is not entitled to inheritance even if one’s will was not changed, if that individuals offspring are included as heirs, he or she can be entitled to a gift.
As with many of the services we offer, upon establishing each individual’s situation, Advise & Protect will provide referrals to professional, experienced and compassionate New York Estate Lawyers free of 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 an elder law attorney who best meets your needs.
Meanwhile, should you have experience or information you would like to share, which might be of benefit to our other readers, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.