Estate Planning is the process for facilitating smooth family transfer of assets upon your death with the least emotional strain. It is the means by which your wishes are properly followed.
Your Will or Trust sets forth your wishes upon your demise and also points the person or persons in whom you trust to carry out your wishes.
A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that authorizes another person to handle a variety of affairs. Form Powers of Attorney are available in stationery stores, but they do not have the necessary language to assist you and your agent should a crisis occur. Our Powers of Attorney have been drafted to prepare for a variety of possibilities.
A Health Care Proxy is a document that authorizes another to communicate your health care decisions if you are not able to do so yourself. We prepare Health Care Proxies to allow your agent authority/access to your medical information under New York State and the federal privacy regulations (HIPPA).
Any adult child 18 years of age or older should execute a Health Care Proxy. In the event of injury or sickness, the parents or other agent, have the right to be advised of their medical condition and the right to speak to the treating physician. This is particularly applicable for an adult child at home, away at school or traveling. Without a Health Care Proxy and without the direct consent of the adult child, the parent or agent is not permitted any access to medical information.
A Living Will is a document that authorizes specific treatment or care in advance. Many jurisdictions rely upon a Living Will rather than a Health Care Proxy. A New York resident may execute a Living Will in addition to a Health Care Proxy.
A DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Order is a direction on a patient's medical chart that the patient should not be resuscitated under certain circumstances. It may be directed by the patient or a member of the patient's family. The DNR can be revoked at any time.
Property owned jointly may be owned in two different ways: (1) as joint tenants with rights of survivorship (JTWROS) which provides that the survivor of the joint owners takes it all; (2) as tenants in common (TIC) which provides that each owner owns his or her individual share and it does not go to the survivor but to the Estate of the owner who died.
Many assets have a direct beneficiary named such as life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts and pension plans. Such assets pass to the beneficiary regardless of the Will or Trust.
Once you have begun the process, it is time to meet with an experienced estate planning attorney. In addition to the above matters, the attorney will discuss with you whether the estate will be subject to estate taxes and, if so, who you expect to assume the burden to pay the taxes.