Estate Planning is an important step in securing your financial future for yourself and your loved ones. Estate Planning is essential to complete in advance in order to provide for your family, designate a person to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf, and ultimately protect your assets. Should an estate plan not be in place, then the courts will decide who inherits and who can help should you become incapacitated.
Estate Planning: Determining Who Inherits
Last Will & Testament– Historically, your Last Will and Testament was the go-to legal document to distribute estate assets after a client passes away, but this document, while still necessary to have, has become less important as it requires a Probate court proceeding to be valid and effective. Every good estate plan should try to avoid Probate in order to help the family save time, money, and maintain their privacy.
Estate Planning: Determining Who Helps You
Estate Planning is now more than simply having a Last Will and Testament. It must also address potential incapacity and probate issues, as well as the specific circumstances of the client and their beneficiaries. In order to be effective, a basic Estate Plan should also include the following necessary documents:
- Comprehensive Durable Power of Attorney– This may be the most important document in your Estate Plan as it appoints an agent that you trust to handle financial affairs such as bill paying, but it must also contain enhanced powers for asset protection and Medicaid eligibility. The standard form is not sufficient for estate planning as it needs to be modified and made more comprehensive, and older documents need to be reviewed regularly.
- Health Care Proxy– This helpful document appoints an agent to make health care decisions if you cannot so that someone you choose and knows your wishes can always be involved if necessary.
- Living Will– This is an end-of-life statement that declares you do not wish to have life-sustaining procedures. Your health care proxy agent would use this document to ensure your wishes are followed.
- The Revocable Living Trust- This planning document has grown in importance over the last number of years. It is a private written agreement that allows a person, while keeping full control, to coordinate their assets and avoid the lengthy, costly, public Probate process.
In addition to these basic Estate Plan documents, the following scenarios should be addressed if appropriate:
- Estate Tax Planning– utilization of tools such as the Disclaimer Credit Shelter Trust to help minimize the New York and the Federal Estate Tax.
- Special Needs Planning– utilization of a protective Supplemental Needs Trust for a disabled, or potentially disabled, family member.
- Elder Care Asset Protection Planning– a comprehensive service that utilizes an Irrevocable Asset Protection Trust to protect assets such as the home and allow the family to prepare for future care.
Estate Planning: Avoiding Probate
When the courts are involved to help settle an estate, there will be a loss of time, a loss of privacy, a loss of control over the outcome, and additional costs will be incurred. The team of attorneys at Tully Law Group, PC can help you determine the most effective legal strategies to avoid this unnecessary and inefficient court proceeding.
Legal Strategies for when Long-Term Care is Needed
For those in their 60’s, we offer a comprehensive program that includes asset protection to ensure that the care you need is paid for while preserving income for yourself and assets for your heirs. Please read more about our Elder Care Protection Plan services.