The term “Estate Planning” covers a wide range of legal planning services and strategies. As your attorney, Matthew will work with you and your spouse, family members, financial advisors and other relevant professionals to create a plan that best suits you and the needs of your family. The following is a list of the estate planning strategies and documents typically used by the office and a brief explanation of each.
WILL. Also known as a “Last Will and Testament,” a Will controls what happens to the majority of your property and who will manage your property upon your death. Your Will is revocable and/or amendable at any time as long as you demonstrate that you have capacity to understand and sign the document. Your Will may include planning for federal and state estate taxes, trusts or other planning strategies that meet the specific needs of those who will inherit your estate. Such trusts and planning strategies include basic support and maintenance trusts, special needs trusts, education trusts, testamentary guardianships for minor or disabled children or other strategies to address your individual preferences. If you die without a Will, the intestacy statutes of the State of New York determine who receives your estate without consideration of your individual needs and preferences. While many people assume that all of their money would pass to their spouse or other specific close family members were they to unexpectedly pass, this is often not the case and preparation prior to the unforeseen can both alleviate family stress and ensure the distribution of your estate in 100% accordance with your specific wishes.
TESTAMENTARY TRUSTS. A Testamentary Trust is a Trust that is included in your Will. The Trust does not come into existence until the event stated in your Will. Most commonly this event is your death or the death of your spouse. Such Trusts are utilized in specific situations to permit the distribution of estate proceeds according to specific wishes of the deceased.
INTERVIVOS/LIVING TRUST. An Intervivos or Living Trust is a document that controls the management of the assets transferred into the Trust during the lifetime of the individual creating the Trust. A Living Trust differs from a Will in that a Living Trust takes effect prior to your death and is typically drafted with one goal being to avoid probate. A Living Trust may be used for management of personal and real property assets during your lifetime, and subsequent to any disability or incapacity.
SPECIAL NEEDS TRUST. A Special Needs Trust (“SNT”), sometimes referred to as a Supplemental Needs Trust, is a specialized type of trust that provides financial management and preservation of asset sensitive government benefits for individuals with a disabling condition. A SNT provides a source of funds to pay for extra and supplemental needs during the individual’s lifetime. The Trust can be set up as a testamentary or intervivos/living trust. Funds in a SNT are not considered “available” to the beneficiary for purposes of benefit eligibility and are considered an exempt resource, ensuring the continuing availability of vitally important government benefits to those in need.
POWER OF ATTORNEY. A Power of Attorney (“POA”) allows you to grant certain specific financial powers to a designated person. When you sign a Power of Attorney, you designate the individuals of your choice as your agents to act as you would act when you are unwilling or unable to do so. You may grant this person (your agent) powers which are as specific or broad as you determine. For example, you may grant the agent the authority to manage your financial affairs, arrange for your acute and long term care, and/or make other important decisions for you. You have the authority to revoke a power of attorney at any time as long as you are not determined to be incapacitated.
GIFTING. Lifetime Gifting may reduce the size of a taxable estate at death. Tax planning through gifting is highly dependent on each individual’s specific circumstances and the estate and gift tax laws
Estate Planning Service – Estate Planning Attorney Staten Island, NY
Estate planning services help ensure that your assets and property will be distributed properly upon death or incapacitation. By engaging with estate planning attorneys, you can have peace of mind knowing your loved ones will be protected while leaving a legacy that endures after you’re gone. Read on for why estate planning matters in transferring wealth with minimal tax and other impact and securing future generations.
The Importance of Estate Planning
Estate planning is a fundamental aspect of life that allows you to prepare for death or incapacitation in the following ways:
- Divide your assets according to your wishes.
- Reduce estate taxes and other costs.
- Appoint a guardian for minor children.
- Make arrangements for someone to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
- Secure the future for those you care for in case of your death or disability.
Key Components of Estate Planning
Estate planning refers to legal documents and strategies intended to safeguard assets and ensure they are distributed according to your wishes. Some key components of estate planning are:
- Wills: A will is a legal document expressing your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and property after your death, including selecting guardians for minor children (if applicable) and an executor to manage your estate.
- Trusts: Trusts are legal entities holding assets on beneficiaries’ behalf for safekeeping. They can help reduce estate taxes, safeguard against creditors, and give greater control over asset distribution.
- Durable Power of Attorney: With this legal document in place, you can appoint someone else to make financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
- Advanced Healthcare Directives: Commonly known as Healthcare Proxies and Living Wills, these documents detail your preferences regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care if you become incapacitated and cannot express them for yourself.
- Beneficiary Designations: Beneficiary designations on financial accounts, life insurance policies, and retirement plans allow you to designate who will inherit certain assets upon death.
Estate Planning Services: Professional Guidance and Support
Estate planning services are offered by professional services such as attorneys, financial advisors, and accountants who specialize in helping individuals and families develop comprehensive estate plans. These professionals can provide expert guidance and advice regarding various aspects of estate planning, such as:
- Wills and Trusts Drafting Services
- Advice regarding tax-saving strategies
- Assisting with the Probate Process
- Assisting with the appointment of guardians, executors, and trustees
- Existing estate plans must be reviewed and updated, or they could become inactive and outdated.m
Estate planning services allow you to ensure your estate plan complies with current laws and regulations and is structured to achieve optimal performance.
Selecting an Appropriate Estate Planning Service Provider
When selecting an estate planning service provider, it’s essential to keep a few critical aspects in mind, including experience, reputation, and communication style. Look for professionals with extensive estate planning experience, in-depth knowledge of applicable laws and regulations, and those who can effectively communicate complex legal concepts while responding quickly and appropriately to inquiries.
Estate planning services are essential in safeguarding your legacy and fulfilling your wishes. Working with a knowledgeable professional to develop an estate plan will bring peace of mind to yourself and your loved ones.
Probate and Administration Service
Losing a loved one is never easy, and dealing with their estate can add a layer of difficulty and sorrow. Our Probate and Administration services exist to assist families in navigating this complex process of administering and dispersing an estate after someone passes. This article will explore their importance and discuss the Probate/Administration process. Finally, we will offer tips for selecting an experienced proctor to lead you on this challenging journey.
The Importance of Probate and Administration Services
Probate and administration services offer invaluable assistance and advice for various reasons. They include:
Assuring that the assets of a deceased are distributed according to their will or, in their absence, state law.
- Identifying and paying any outstanding debts or taxes of the deceased; protecting against fraudulent claims against their estate; safeguarding from fraudulent lawsuits on the estate.
- Safeguarding fraudulent claims on the estate from fraudulent claimants and providing a legal framework for resolving conflicts among heirs and beneficiaries.
- Assuring the estate is managed and administered according to law.
The Probate Process
Probate involves several steps that depend on both the jurisdiction and complexity of an estate:
- Filing the Will: To start this process, locate and file a will for probate with the appropriate court.
- Appointing an Executor or Administrator: In most instances, an executor named in a will is set by the court as their executor; alternatively, an administrator may be chosen if no choice exists and/or if their designated executor cannot or refuses to act in this capacity.
- Asset Identification and Appraisal: An executor or administrator has the responsibility of identifying and appraising all the deceased’s assets, such as real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, or any other valuables that they possess.
- Notifying Creditors and Settling Debts: As soon as someone passes, an executor or administrator must notify their creditors of the death and settle any outstanding debts or taxes associated with their estate.
- Distribution of Assets: Once all debts and taxes have been satisfied, an executor or administrator will distribute any remaining assets according to either state law if there is no will or according to what would have been stipulated in their Will.
- Closing an Estate: Once all assets have been disbursed, an executor or administrator should submit a final accounting to the court and request closure of the estate.
Selecting the Right Probate and Administration Professional
Consider experience, reputation, and communication style when selecting a probate or administration professional. Look for professionals who:
- Are knowledgeable about the laws and regulations governing the probate process in your jurisdiction
- Can effectively communicate complex information and are responsive to your questions and concerns
- Have a solid network of industry connections, such as appraisers, accountants, and tax professionals.
Hiring the appropriate probate and administration professional can ensure a more streamlined and efficient probate process during this trying time.