John, a successful entrepreneur on the East End of Long Island, and his wife, Mary, have worked tirelessly to build their thriving business from scratch. The parents of two minor children, John and Mary had fallen prey to the misconception that estate planning was only for the uber-wealthy and the elderly.
Tragedy struck when John passed away unexpectedly, leaving behind a tangled web of legal complications. Without a comprehensive estate plan, the fate of their hard-earned wealth hung precariously in the balance. Mary and the rest of John’s family had to contend with lengthy probate proceedings, exorbitant taxes, and bitter disputes that threatened to tear them apart.
However, amid this chaos, Mary sought the counsel of a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer to avoid many disputes in the future and protect herself and her children as the surviving spouse. With their guidance, Mary navigated the complexities of New York estate law, ensuring the protection and distribution of her assets according to her wishes. Through the power of estate planning, she preserved their family’s wealth and designated trustworthy individuals to make financial decisions, serve as a health care proxy, and become a guardian to her children, if necessary. Her husband’s death was a stark reminder that no one has a guaranteed amount of time on earth.
John and Mary’s story illustrates the dire consequences that can befall those who dismiss the importance of estate planning. This blog, from a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney in New York, shares the answers to estate planning FAQs. Continue reading to learn more, then contact us at (631) 506-8440 to schedule a consultation in Riverhead, NY.
What is Estate Planning?
Proper estate planning is a blueprint for the distribution of certain assets after you pass away and medical decisions while you are still alive, via health care proxies. As experienced estate planning attorneys on the East End of Long Island can attest, estate planning documents such as a Trust and an Advance Health Care Directive can save a family member from dealing with the stress of guessing how to allocate a deceased person’s assets and deciphering their health care wishes should they become terminally ill or incapacitated.
With the help of an estate planning lawyer, you can preserve your wealth according to your intentions, even if you are no longer physically present to manage it. An estate planning attorney in New York can assist in the drafting of legal forms and provide counsel concerning such legal matters as:
- Living wills
- Medicaid planning
- Revocable and irrevocable trusts
- Guardianship proceedings
- The Probate Process
Why Do I Need an Estate Plan?
Regardless of a prevalent myth, everyone, despite their income or net worth, can benefit from proper estate planning. Working with the right estate lawyer, you can ensure the distribution of your belongings according to your wishes—regardless of their value—by designating beneficiaries. An estate plan also ensures that your financial decisions and health care wishes will be upheld if you become unable to make decisions concerning personal matters. Furthermore, legally valid estate planning documents allow your preferred guardian to take responsibility for your minor children, rather than someone appointed by the court, in the unfortunate event of your passing.
What Documents Should I Include in My Estate Plan?
Estate planning lawyers on the East End of Long Island know that a comprehensive estate plan involves much more than finances. We’ve listed the most vital components below:
A will is a legal document that outlines the intentions of the testator (the person creating the will) about the distribution of properties and wealth. In the will, the testator can designate an executor to handle estate administration and a guardian to raise minor children in the event of their death.
A Trust is a legal arrangement whereby one or more individuals (trustees) manage property on behalf of another person (beneficiary). Residents on the East End of Long Island create Trusts with the help of an estate lawyer to control and protect assets such as real estate, investments, and other financial accounts, reduce taxes, or protect vulnerable family members.
Multiple types of Trusts have different purposes. Common Trusts include:
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Special needs Trusts
- Life Insurance Trusts
- Q Tip Trusts
- QPRT Trusts
- Gun Trust
- Dynasty Trust
While each type of trust has advantages and drawbacks, a trust empowers you to control your asset management after you die or become incapacitated. It eliminates probate court proceedings in estate administration through the outright distribution of the assets directly to your beneficiaries after your death. It can help reduce taxes on specific assets and provide asset protection from creditors.
How do you know if you need a Trust? Consider your current financial situation and future goals. Do you have significant assets you want to protect from creditors? Do you want to ensure the distribution of your assets according to your wishes after death? An experienced NY estate planning attorney can guide you through setting up a Trust to meet your needs and provide maximum protection for your beneficiaries.
Disability planning is part of a robust estate plan. While we all work to stay healthy, we cannot predict what the future holds. If you become incapacitated and unable to express your intentions regarding medical treatment in the future, a Health Care Proxy upholds your will concerning the level of medical care and treatment you would like to receive.
HIPAA Release Forms
HIPAA, an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, is a powerful federal law designed to protect sensitive patient health information. It established national standards to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of medical data. Medical practitioners are only permitted to share health care information with patients if they provide consent.
With the assistance of a knowledgeable estate lawyer, you can incorporate a HIPAA release in your estate plan to grant your health care agent access to vital information when needed.
A HIPAA release form allows you to:
- Choose a third party to receive health care information
- Decide what information is disclosed
- Choose the start and end dates for sharing information
You can include your wishes regarding various medical treatments and end-of-life choices in your Living Will, including your decisions concerning:
- Cardiac resuscitation
- Mechanical respiration
- Artificial hydration and nutrition
- Surgical procedures
- Organ donation
In specific cases, the pen is mightier than the sword; therefore, delegating the responsibility of your Power of Attorney is a significant decision with serious ramifications. The person accepting the Power of Attorney (the principal) on your behalf will have the ability to manage your private affairs including making financial decisions. There are multiple types of Power of Attorney. Because choosing the right one is a complex and difficult decision, seek the counsel of an estate planning lawyer.
Types of Power of Attorney
Your estate planning attorney may recommend one of the following Powers of Attorney
Ensure a stable financial future by considering what happens if you outlive your income. Many individuals face the daunting prospect of running out of money in their golden years, especially when it comes to paying for care. However, with the guidance of a skilled Medicaid Planning Attorney, the process of navigating Medicaid becomes less complex. By strategically structuring your financial assets, you can avoid potential issues as your health and medical needs change.
Preserving your hard-earned assets from unexpected healthcare circumstances requires careful planning. Utilizing financial tools like irrevocable trusts can help safeguard your wealth and shift the financial burden to programs like Medicaid. These programs exist to support qualifying individuals in avoiding the depletion of their financial resources. Consulting with an experienced Medicaid Planning Attorney, well-versed in New York State Medicaid laws, will guide you toward a secure future during your golden years.
Sheryll Law, P.C.: Estate Planning and Elder Law Attorneys on the East End of Long Island
Have you been typing “estate attorney near me” into your search bar? Our experienced estate attorneys at Sheryll Law, P.C. are here to offer solid legal representation and guidance in drafting Wills and other legal documents such as a Trust, tailored to your situation and desires. We provide a personal experience during your estate planning because we develop relationships with our clients and craft documents that specifically suit your family’s lifestyle. We want to protect the assets you’ve worked your whole life to accrue. Experience estate planning with your best interests in mind. Contact us at (631) 506-8440 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.