Understanding how and why estate planning can be an essential part of your long term financial plans is important for every resident of New York. There are numerous angles at which to approach estate planning law which include at the most basic level wills and power of attorney, which many people might be somewhat familiar with.
When handling these issues and anything more complicated, like probate, guardianship, taxes and debts it is in your best interest to hire a New York estate planning lawyer. Covering certain essentials in your estate planning can save you time and money in the short term and long term.
That is why they have created this easy to understand checklist of the most important aspects of estate planning.
The need for each and every person to have a will can not be overstated. A will is a document that you and your estate lawyer can write up that dictates who receives what from your estate after death. This means the inheritance to beneficiaries both inside of the family and out. The will should be updated at major life events and can be changed over time, but the wording and consistency are vital, which is why you should always consult with an experienced law firm first.
A durable power of attorney is someone who can act on your behalf if you were to be unable to make decisions. They would be responsible for financial decisions regarding payments, bills, debt, and taxes. If there were to be no power of attorney and you were no longer able to make decisions, the court would need to be involved and the process is slower and more expensive. With enough foresight, a power of attorney can be appointed who you trust and know personally so they will have your best interest at heart.
A healthcare power of attorney is a document that gives the power of your healthcare-related decisions to a trusted individual. Similar to a power of attorney (which handles financial decisions) A healthcare power of attorney is extremely important for some of the most important decisions in life such as life support, treatment plans, medication, nursing homes, and hospital stays.
A similar document to the healthcare power of attorney is called the Living Will. The purpose of the living will is to outline in advance your desires regarding all health-related decisions. It is for the same situations if you are unable to speak, unconscious, or too ill to make decisions, but instead, you have dictated in advance what you wish to happen instead of leaving it in the hands of another individual.
Trusts are one of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of estate planning. Trusts are NOT only for the very wealthy who pass on massive estates from generation to generation. Trust can be used for average and even smaller estates and is an excellent vehicle to protect assets. They can even be helpful to minimize taxes on estates. A trust allows a directive to be decided in advance for when and how finances or assets can be passed on or used by the beneficiaries. They are extremely relevant if you have a life insurance policy that would go to your children or spouse.