What is the Main Idea of Estate Planning?
Although few people want to think about the worst-case scenario, as the old saying goes, only two things in life are certain: death and taxes. With that in mind, it simply makes good sense to plan for certain eventualities in life, including the possibility that you may become incapacitated by an accident or injury. For starters, you’ll want to contact estate attorneys on Long Island, such as the ones available at Winkler Kurtz, LLP.
When Should I Start Estate Planning?
Estate planning is particularly important when you start a family, or start to accumulate assets. Regardless of your level of wealth, having a plan for what to do with your assets is critical to ensure that your wishes are followed — and your finances are protected — in the event that you die or are unable to make decisions for yourself.
In addition, an estate plan can allow you to set forth your desires for medical care should you be unable to make those choices for yourself. Through a healthcare proxy, you will be able to designate a person to make decisions for you, and lay out your preferences in advance.
At Winkler Kurtz, LLP, our estate attorneys on Long Island have helped New Yorkers plan for their futures for more than 30 years. We work collaboratively with our clients to help them detail their goals, and then draft the legal documents necessary to achieve them. Contact our office today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation.
What are the Requirements for Estate Planning?
Each individual has different estate planning requirements, as we all have our own goals when it comes to our estates. We might want to maximize the amount of assets that we pass onto our heirs by minimizing taxes, transfer assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance, or make sure that our children are provided for after our death. Regardless of what your desires may be, a well-drafted estate plan can help you achieve them.
What are the 5 Components of Estate Planning?
In New York, an estate plan may consist of a number of legal documents, including:
1. Last Will and Testament
A will is a legal document, generally drafted by an attorney, which goes into effect after you die. A will names an executor to act as the personal representative of your estate; he or she will “probate” your will after you die through the New York Surrogate Court system. Through probate, the executor will ensure that your financial matters are settled, and that your property is disposed of in accordance with your wishes.
If you pass away without a will, then you are said to die “intestate.” Your assets will be then distributed based on New York laws on intestate succession. With a will, you can make sure that your wishes are followed after death. A will can also be used to plan your estate in order to minimize taxes.
If you have minor children, planning for what will happen to them if you die or become incapacitated is critical. Appointing a guardian as part of your estate plan allows New York parents to ensure that their children will be cared for if they die or are incapacitated. This can often be done through a will, as a Long Island estate planning lawyer can explain.
A trust is a legal arrangement that allows a person (trustee) to hold property or assets on behalf of a beneficiary or beneficiaries. There are many types of trusts, each with different advantages that can help you achieve different goals such as maintaining privacy, qualifying for Medicaid assistance, reducing estate taxes, providing for loved ones with special needs, or avoiding probate.
4. Power of Attorney
A power of attorney designates a person (known as an agent) to handle financial or other affairs for an incapacitated person. A financial power of attorney can be particularly important as part of an estate plan, as it gives an agent the ability to access your bank accounts and pay bills, if you are unable to do so. For a power of attorney to be effective, it must be made before you become incapacitated due to illness or injury.
5. Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy appoints a person to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot due to illness or injury. In this document, you can also decide if want life-saving treatment such as resuscitation, intravenous fluids or nutrition, and life-support. Because you can become incapacitated unexpectedly, having a health care proxy can ensure that your wishes regarding medical treatment are followed.
Contact Estate Attorneys on Long Island
Winkler Kurtz, LLP understands that the estate planning process can be emotional and complicated, as you make decisions regarding your own death or incapacitation. We are here to help guide you, offering our counsel and extensive knowledge on New York law. With our experience, we can help make sure that your wishes are followed regarding your assets, children, and your medical decisions.
The idea of estate planning may be intimidating, but with skilled estate planning attorneys on Long Island to shepherd you through each step, it can be relatively simple. Contact our office today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online to learn more, or to schedule an initial consultation. You can also fill out the form below to get in touch with our office:
Recent Blog Post – Estate Planning for Second Marriages on Long Island
A second marriage following a divorce can feel like a fresh start, but it is necessary to consider the changes that can occur when you join your life with someone else’s. A second marriage can impact your financial plan and how you manage and plan your estate. It can be challenging to determine what is fair in a second marriage and estate planning. At Winkler Kurtz, LLP, our estate planning for second marriages attorney Long Island can help you understand some of the financial aspects surrounding a second marriage and help you reshape your estate plan.
Before the Wedding
If you are getting married for the second time, you are likely a bit older and want to avoid past mistakes. Various issues can arise when you plan your estate for a second marriage. When planning your estate, there are a few things to consider doing before the wedding:
- Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements – These agreements are often put in place if a spouse has more assets than the other and are a great way to keep your assets safe if the marriage ends. It is vital that the documents are reviewed by an estate planning for second marriages attorney Long Island before they are signed.
- Irrevocable Trusts – If you have children from a previous marriage, you may wish to keep assets aside to benefit them. Forming this trust before the wedding can keep these assets from becoming intertwined in your marriage. These trusts can also protect the assets from future creditors should the marriage end.
- Revocable Trusts – This is useful when you want to document that you entered your second marriage with an asset and keeps these assets separate from any marital assets.
After the Wedding
A married couple should work together as a team. You and your spouse can use estate planning to set assets aside for the surviving spouse should something happen. You can also create protection for your children that would not exist otherwise. Estate planning protects your children, your spouse, plans for disability or illness, preserves your estate, and helps you avoid future disputes. Here are some of the typical documents for estate planning:
- Will and Testament
- Contracts to Will
- Financial Power of Attorney
- Living Will and Medical Power of Attorney
- Funeral Arrangements
- Irrevocable and Revocable Trust
A seasoned estate planning for second marriages attorney Long Island can work with you to develop these documents and assist you with estate administration. We understand that each family has different needs when it comes to planning their estate, and we will help you draft an estate plan to protect your assets.
Local Estate Attorneys on Long Island
If you are looking for estate planning for second marriages attorney Long Island, our team at Winkler Kurtz, LLP is here to help. We understand that estate planning can be complex, and we will work with you to ensure that the life you’ve built over your lifetime is protected. Contact our office today to schedule a complimentary consultation.
WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ESTATES FAQ
Most people have questions about estate planning, especially around the use of wills and trusts. If you have a question that is not covered in these FAQs or would like further information, please contact the estate planning attorneys at Winkler Kurtz , LLP discuss your unique needs.
What are the benefits of a living trust?
A trust avoids probate and maintains confidentiality for your beneficiaries. You may also use the assets within the trust during your lifetime, and designate funds to provide for yourself if you should become disabled.
What are the downsides of a living trust?
A trust only controls the assets that you transfer into it. Should you neglect to transfer property, the beneficiaries of your trust will not receive access to that property when you die.
If I have a living trust, do I need a will?
Most estate attorneys agree that if you have a living trust, you should also have a will.
What is the difference between a living trust and a will?
A will provides instructions about how all your assets will be distributed after you die. A living trust functions while you are living and after you die, and only allows management of the specific assets that you transfer into it.
When is probate necessary?
In New York State, a will must be probated if the person who died had assets of $30,000 or more.
What does the executor of an estate do?
The executor of an estate is responsible for inventorying and managing the deceased’s property, making sure all debts and taxes are paid, and distributing the remainder to the appropriate inheritors.
What is a living will?
A living will is a document in which you state your preferences for end-of-life medical care. It may also be known as a health care directive, medical directive, or advance directive.
Who has to pay the deceased’s debts?
Generally, the decedent’s estate is responsible for any debts. If there is not enough in the estate, the debts will typically go unpaid.
How do I get started planning my estate?
When you are ready to begin planning for your family, please call (631) 928-8000 or contact the Long Island estate planning attorneys at Winkler Kurtz, LLP. With decades of experience helping clients make informed and confident decisions, we have the skill and knowledge to ensure your assets and your loved ones are protected. We look forward to your call.