Protecting the Future
For Your Loved Ones.
If you or a loved one has assets of any size, estate planning is critical to make sure what you have goes to those most important to you. Estate planning can be confusing or overwhelming, so often times clients put it off. But planning your estate is essential to ensuring that your family members are protected and that your wishes are carried out as you want.
As with all of our services, we are focused on creating a long-term relationship of comfort and satisfaction. We invite you back regularly to review your plan and give you the opportunity to modify and amend your estate plan as you need.
Whether you find yourself asking “what is estate planning” or you have a good grip on it, it’s important to review your plan with an expert and have the necessary legal documents to implement it. If you want to understand how a trust works, qualifying for Medicaid, or re-titling deeds, we provide those services and can put your mind at ease.
The Way Estate Planning Works
It’s standard in my business to think that people don’t address estate planning because they don’t want to think about their own mortality. But the other day, when a single middle-aged woman told me she didn’t have a will, I learned something pretty astounding. She believed the “government” would get her money so she didn’t think she needed one. Wrong.
When you die without a will, the law provides a “default” setting which prescribes how your assets will pass. An administrator is appointed to pay bills, collect assets and distribute them to your next of kin. Yet the “default” setting may not reflect your wishes. Even the court’s appointment of an administrator can be a nightmare if your family members don’t get along, or you have minor children. So, it is much better to plan – because one size doesn’t fit all.
Whether you find yourself asking “what is estate planning” or you have a good grip on it, it’s important to review your plan with an expert and have the necessary legal documents to implement it.
Health Care Proxy
Appoints another to make health care decisions for you if you are unable to do so. It can come into play if you are in a car accident or something unexpected goes wrong or happens during even planned surgery. If you still find yourself asking, “What is a healthcare proxy,” our Pleasantville legal team is at your disposal.
Durable Power of Attorney
Appoints another as your “agent” aka “attorney-in-fact” to manage your financial and other affairs in the event of a mental disability. This is an incredibly powerful document that can help family members manage your affairs if you are stricken with Alzheimer’s, Dementia or some other disease which makes you unable to manage your affairs. This document alone can avoid a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding to appoint someone to manage your affairs. The contents of this document in New York are prescribed by state law. If you are unsure of how to get a power of attorney, contact our Chappaqua attorneys.
Specific Estate Planning Services
If you’re shepherding a parent through the next stages of life, or concerned about elder law, we can take care of you. If you’re considering creating a trust, doing tax planning, or re-titling deeds, you can contact us and put your mind at ease.
When you die without a will, the law of your state of residence determines how some of your assets will pass. Assets which you own, in your name alone, pass to your heirs through your will. Assets which are held jointly, or pass to a beneficiary through a beneficiary designation, generally pass to your heirs outside your will. However, the will is the only place you can name an executor who orchestrates the process of estate administration.
Trusts are formed to hold and manage property for beneficiaries. The trust is managed by a trustee and a trust agreement sets out the rules of the road. Although a Will speaks only from the moment of death, trusts begin speaking when they are created. A living trust is created while you are alive to manage your property during your life and to provide what happens to it after you die. With a living trust, also known as a ‘revocable trust’, you retain complete control over the property, because you are the trustee and the beneficiary.
Tax planning is a factor in many estates. Although the actual estate tax, imposed by the federal government and New York State, has a high exemption, other taxes may come into play. For example, many times there can be substantial tax savings if you hold on to appreciated property until you die, rather than give it away. There is no “inheritance tax” in NY so you do not pay tax on property you inherit. However, if you own property in other states or countries, there can be tax consequences.
Did you know that the only place you can legally appoint a guardian for minor children is in your Will? This is the number one reason younger families need estate planning! Without a surviving parent, a court process would ensue to appoint a guardian, if your Will does not name one.