Frequently asked questions on estate planning
questions on estate planning

Frequently asked questions on estate planning

What is estate planning?

Estate planning in concise terms is the systematic and legal planning of the management of one’s assets during life and their consequent transfer during death, while mitigating difficulties and expenses associated with the bequeathal. Estate planning varies from state to state. In New York, certain laws are in effect which regulate estates and taxes, and such laws would inevitably influence your planning strategy.

How many documents should I include in my estate plan?

The number of estate planning documents you need will be determined by the situation of your estate and your goals. If your estate is not so large, you can easily dispose it with a will. Probating such wills go more easily since the assets they address are small. If your estate is large, you may need to establish trusts to transfer some assets so as to avoid a complex probate and huge taxes. If you are getting old and considering long-term care, your attorney can help establish guardianship or powers of attorney.

What are powers of attorney?

A power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent who would make decisions on your behalf when you become unable to make them yourself due to incapacity. Such decisions could bother on your finances or healthcare, or both as the case may be.

I do not want my family to go through probate. How can I avoid it?

Probate in New York is often expensive, lengthy and complicated, and so highly undesirable for many. The good news is proper estate planning can help you avoid probate completely. By holding your assets in a trust, such assets will pass on to the beneficiaries outside probate. Assets which cannot go into a trust such as IRAs will go to the designated beneficiary directly outside probate as well. If the remaining assets left in your name alone do not exceed $50,000, they will pass through a small estate proceeding instead of an elaborate probate.

Who is an executor, trustee, estate administrator in terms of estate planning?

Executor: your executor is responsible for petitioning your will to court for probate, administering your estate and distributing it according to the beneficiaries.

Estate administrator: in the absence of a will, an estate administrator is appointed in place of an executor. Both terms are collectively called the personal representative of the deceased and have the same responsibilities.

Trustee: A person who creates a trust is called a trust maker, while the person who they name to be their representative to manage the trust is called the trustee.

What are estate taxes?

Estate taxes are taxes payable to the government when a person dies leaving an estate. Not all states impose estate taxes, but in New York, every estate worth over $5.85 million will be taxed upon death. The amount must be paid to the state before beneficiaries can inherit. There are also federal estate taxes. If your estate is over this value and you do not wish for such considerable amount to simply go to the state, you can make your estate tax exempt by reducing its value through gifting, keeping part of your estate in trust, joint ownership, etc. Your estate planning attorney can help you with all of that.

How can I manage my estate when I become incapacitated?

When you become incapacitated, you would need someone to stand in your stead to make decisions on your behalf. You want this person to be someone you trust and that is why you need to appoint them now via any of the following:

  • Financial Power of Attorney: in this document, you appoint a person to make financial decisions for you when you become incapacitated.
  • Healthcare Proxy: this handles your healthcare just as the financial power of attorney handles your finances.
  • Trust: in a trust, your trustee immediately steps into your shoes to manage your estate during incapacity.
  • Living Will: you can declare your healthcare preferences during end of life situations by writing them in a living will.

How can I find an estate planning attorney near me 11514?

In every legal matter, it is best to hire an attorney that is specialized in that very locale. This is because laws vary from one locality to another. Our team of estate planning lawyers offer expert services in Carle Place, NY 11514, and all the Boroughs of New York. Contact our law office today for a consultation.