Our New York-based law firm is renowned for having a holistic approach to estate planning. Our method is to first understand the situation of our client in order to know what they need and how best to help them. We create the necessary documents required to transfer your assets to your loved ones in the easiest and most cost-effective means possible. We also consider eventual incapacitation and so plan against it by creating powers of attorney. Our goal is to serve your best interests and ensure you have a voice as regards your property disposal even while you’re gone. If you need assistance from an estate planning attorney near you 11510, Baldwin, NY, simply contact us today.
Last Will and Testament
A Last Will and Testament, referred to simply as a will, is a legal document by which you bequeath assets to whoever you wish them for. Without a will or trust, the state of New York will give ownership of all your possessions (that are held in your name) to your closest heirs — your spouse and kids if they are alive. This may not be your wish. You probably have a friend, distant relative or even a charity organization who you wish to bequeath some wealth to when you pass away. You can make this possible by stating it in a will.
Note: While wills are now downloadable online, be aware that estate planning is not one-size-fits-all. There may be a need to customize your will to suit your estate goals without compromising the validity of your document, and it becomes imperative you seek help from an experienced estate planning lawyer near you.
Financial Power of Attorney
In the event of incapacity, you definitely would need someone to be in charge of your financial responsibilities. You do not want just any member of your family to be in charge especially when they lack the financial know-how. In order to ensure that someone competent and of your choosing becomes the one to make financial decisions for you, name them by creating a financial power of attorney now. Your agent appointed has the legal authority to handle your finances and make decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated. Do not be confused with the name. Your agent must not necessarily be an attorney or any legal professional whatsoever.
Health Care Proxy
Just like the financial POA, a health care proxy is a legal document granting someone else the power to make medical decisions on your behalf when you become unable to make them yourself due to incapacity. You can name any member of your family or a healthcare professional to do this. A healthcare proxy is also sometimes referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney.
Advance Healthcare Directive
Advance medical directive is also known as a living will. As the name denotes, is a will that only operates during one’s lifetime as opposed to a Last Will. A living will does not transfer assets, but is used to spell out your wishes concerning your end-of-life healthcare preferences. These may boil down to whether you would desire to be put on life support, offer your body for scientific experiment or organ donation, etc.
If you do not want your loved ones to go through the complex and expensive process of probate when you die, simply bequeath your assets to them by creating trusts instead of a will. A living trust helps you avoid probate (or simplify it when used alongside a will) minimize estate tax, and prevents publicity that comes with wills. In a trust, you must name a successor trustee who must manage the trust assets when you become incapacitated or pass away before they are transferred to the beneficiaries.
What could go wrong with a ‘do it yourself’ estate plan?
It could be tempting and perhaps less expensive to make estate plans all by yourself. The dangers lies in not creating the proper plans which would be fit to stand in New York. While it may not be bad engaging in steps involved in planning your estate, it is a bad idea to go do it all yourself without involving an estate planning attorney near you.