Our Long Island Estate Planning Attorney Team Can Get You Prepared
Estate planning helps people and families protect their assets and plan for the future. There are a number of valuable legal tools available, and it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each, with the assistance of an experienced estate planning lawyer. At Davidow, Davidow, Siegel & Stern, our Long Island estate planning attorney team helps clients prepare ahead of time for how their property will be distributed when they pass away. We are seasoned lawyers who have dedicated our careers to assisting people and families across Long Island.
Why You Need an Estate Plan (Seriously, We’re Not Kidding!)
When done properly, an estate plan can provide a number of benefits. It offers peace of mind to the person planning the estate by clearly determining where the person’s assets will go when he or she dies, instead of leaving it to the system to decide. An estate plan can also provide a level of financial security for the person’s loved ones. Estate plans can be used for various purposes:
Protect Assets: Part of planning for the future is preparing for long-term health care and other expenses. An estate plan can help you protect your assets in advance of any long-term care needs so that the property remains available for your family when you die.
Decide for Yourself: Believe it or not, the majority of New Yorkers pass away without even a will in place. When that happens, state law designates how the person’s assets will be distributed to spouses, children and others. It may also open the door to fighting among family members over their piece of the estate. An estate plan allows you to decide ahead of time where your money and assets will go in the event of your death.
Protect Loved Ones: An estate plan also gives you the power to put certain restrictions on the transfer of the property. That includes instructing when beneficiaries can access the assets and how property can be used.
Reduce Taxes: Tax considerations are a key part of estate planning. A solid plan can help you avoid having your assets slashed by estate and other taxes, reducing the share that goes to your loved ones, when you pass away.
Prepare for Incapacity: Many people use estate plans to make certain decisions about their medical care and personal affairs in advance, in case they become incapacitated which includes addressing end-of-life care issues.
Common Estate Planning Tools
Although wills are often used in planning an estate, they are only one of several legal tools available. A Long Island estate planning attorney at DDSS can help you understand the full range of options available and tailor them to your unique personal circumstances and needs.
Will: A will is a legal document in which a person describes in detail how his or her money, real property and other assets will be distributed when the person passes away. The will usually also names a personal representative, the individual who will administer the will when the time comes.
Trusts: A trust is another tool for making decisions about how your property will be distributed when you die. There are a number of different types of trusts, which are often used to reduce taxes, protect assets and provide for loved ones. Trusts can be used along with a will and other tools to create a comprehensive estate plan including a plan to avoid probate.
Durable Power of Attorney: You can use a power of attorney to legally authorize another person to handle your financial affairs during your lifetime if you become incapacitated or are otherwise unable to do so.
Health Care Proxy: This is similar to a power of attorney, except it is only for health care decisions. The proxy appoints someone that will make those decisions for you in the event that you are not able to make the decisions yourself.
Living Will: This legal tool is used to make end-of-life decisions about health care in the event that you become incapacitated. Although it can be difficult to have to think about these kinds of situations, planning ahead will guide your loved ones and ensure that your wishes are carried out avoiding any uncertainty among your family members or medical care providers.
What Happens if You Do Not Have an Estate Plan: New York’s Intestacy Law
Without an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to New York’s intestacy law. The law provides that the first $50,000 and one-half of whatever is left of the estate go to your spouse, if you are married when you die. The other half of the estate goes to your kids, if you have children, even if they are minors at the time. If your spouse has died or you are not married, the estate will go to your children.
When a person dies without a living spouse or children, his or her parents are next in line to receive the assets. If the person’s parents are dead, the assets will go to his or her living siblings and if not then to the cousins.
This is not always the way people want their estate transferred upon death. Making a will with the help of an estate planning lawyer allows you to decide for yourself where the assets will go.
What to Look for in a Long Island Estate Planning Attorney
When it comes to planning for the future and protecting your assets you do not want to take a lot of risks. That is why it is vital to seek the advice of an experienced estate planning lawyer. It is also important to turn to an attorney who will take the time to understand your unique situation and needs.
At DDSS, our Long Island estate planning attorney team has been serving people and families across the region with an emphasis on using legal tools to protect assets, reduce taxes and ensure comprehensive care.
How Our Estate Planning Attorneys Can Help
Our Long Island estate planning attorneys can assist you with preparing for the future. We understand that there are important decisions to be made and we will take a personalized approach when helping to craft your estate plan. Examples of how we can be of assistance include the following:
Preparing a Last Will and Testament
It is one thing to prepare a last will and testament. It is another thing to prepare an instrument which helps you to meet your goals. When helping to prepare a last will, our attorneys will help you to consider who should serve as an executor and how your assets can be distributed in a way that is consistent with your wishes. We will also ensure that there are no ambiguities in the document so as to prevent disputes between your heirs. Finally, we invite you to come in to periodically review your will in order to ensure that it is up to date so that assets do not unexpectedly fall outside of your estate plan.
Creating a Living Trust
There are a number of ways in which creating a trust can provide flexibility to your estate planning. Utilizing a living trust can help to spare your heirs from having to go through the probate process. Your assets will be transferred into the trust while you are still alive, and you can continue to enjoy the use of them. Upon your death, the management of those assets and any distribution of them will be overseen by a trustee who must follow the terms of the trust. This distribution occurs outside of probate. Our lawyers can help you create a living trust which will save your heirs time, money and needless aggravation.
Fortunately, there are many situations in which your assets can pass directly to another without the need for a will or a trust. Many types of assets, such as banking and investment accounts, allow you to designate a beneficiary who will receive the assets upon your passing. While the process for completing a transfer after a death is typically straightforward, the procedures for doing so can vary from institution to institution. Our attorneys will encourage you to make sure that your beneficiary designations are up to date with your wishes. We are also able to provide guidance to your heirs regarding the process needed to complete any transfers.
Elder Care & Long-Term Care Planning
We assist with elder care planning in a number of contexts. These can include setting up a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust in order to help increase your chances of eligibility for future long-term care coverage. We also provide assistance with the drafting of advance directives so that others may make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. Such directives can give you peace of mind by knowing that your wishes will be followed in the event that you are unable to make a decision due to illness or incapacity. We will prepare your directives so that your wishes are clear. This helps to eliminate infighting and disputes among family members because your instructions will be clearly spelled out should the time come for your directives to be invoked.
See What a Long Island Estate Planning Attorney Can Do For You
If you are considering an estate plan or already grappling with related issues, DDSS can help.
Our offices are conveniently located in central Suffolk County, but we serve clients throughout Long Island and the greater New York area. We are also pleased to meet with clients via Zoom, FaceTime and other video conferencing tools. Call us, contact us online or use the live chat function to schedule a consultation with a Long Island estate planning attorney today.