Estate Planning allows families to not only properly prepare for the disposition of a person’s estate after death, but also ultimately ensuring the person’s interests are best represented during their lifetime. Through this process, one’s assets are preserved and used for the benefit of those you love by reducing uncertainties and potentially minimizing gift, estate, generation-skipping transfer, and income tax.
Last Will & Testament
Without a will, New York State law will dictate how assets will be distributed. The only way to ensure wishes are honored is to create a Will.
A Last Will & Testament is a legal document which provides instructions to be carried out after death. Wills typically address the distribution of assets, allows the naming of beneficiaries, specific gifts, appointments of guardians for minor children, naming an executor of the estate and other important elections regarding the distribution of your assets. Without a will, New York state law shall direct how assets will be distributed. A Last Will and Testament s may also incorporate a number of testamentary trusts— trusts that are set up after your death.
Upon death, a Last Will & Testament will be admitted to Surrogate’s Court whereupon a judge will appoint an Executor of your Estate. The Executor is then responsible for collecting all of the decedent’s assets and distributing them in accordance with the decedent’s wishes and court oversight
Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts
USING TRUSTS TO PROTECT AND MANAGE YOUR ASSETS
Finding the precise trust or combination of trusts for your needs requires the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney. Trusts also offer a high degree of control over the management and disposal of assets.
Trusts are vital tools in estate planning as well as asset protection.
Examples of commonly used trusts include:
Health Care Proxy
Health Care Proxy is a document that appoints an agent to make health care decisions in the event that one is incapable of making such decisions.
There are essentially two situations in which a health care proxy is needed. The first exists when there will be a temporary inability to make health care decisions. For example, when having an outpatient surgical procedure and under general anesthesia. Should something unexpected happen, and a health care decision needs to be made, a Health Care Proxy agent may make health decisions.
The second exists when there will be a permanent inability to make health care decisions. Under these circumstances if a health care proxy agent is not appointed, all appropriate medical treatments will be provided. A health care agent can ensure that wishes are being met and a patient’s best interests are served.
A Living Will, also sometimes referred to as an Advanced Health Care Directive, is a document that articulates wishes with regard to health care treatment if one becomes incapable of verbally expressing those desires.
There is no customary form of Living Will in New York, nor is there a statute that governs them. The highest court in New York has held that a Living Will is valid as long as it constitutes “clear and convincing evidence” of one’s wishes.
A personalized Living Will prepared for you by The Trataros Law Firm will reflect personal preferences for a future that hopefully will never have to be faced. While it is unpleasant to contemplate the need for such a document, it is far preferable to plan ahead than to suffer the difficult and anguishing issues that will arise if no advance directives about one’s care and treatment have been given.
Power Of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that is used to appoint someone to make real estate, financial, and other legal decisions for another. The person who signs a Power of Attorney is referred to as the Principal, and the person who acts on behalf of the Principle is referred to as the Agent.
A Principal may give an Agent either extensive legal authority or very limited authority. The Power of Attorney is frequently used to assist in the event of a Principal’s illness or unavailability in legal transaction whereas the Principal cannot be present to sign necessary legal documents.
TYPES OF POWER OF ATTORNEY
Probate & Estate Administration
When one passes away, the estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. Being the executor of an estate is a solemn duty and privilege.
EVERY PROBATE ESTATE IS UNIQUE, BUT MOST INVOLVE THE FOLLOWING STEPS: