In this article, you will learn…
- How an estate planning attorney can help you save money,
- The difference between an irrevocable trust and a revocable trust, and
- What estate plans can be changed.
What Is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the legal process of arranging for the management of one’s estate in the event of death or incapacitation. This is done while the individual is alive, and serves as an outline for how they would like their assets and property to be distributed to their beneficiaries.
The goal of any estate plan is to avoid overpaying taxes, legal fees, and court costs. This is best done by working with an estate planning lawyer that is experienced in their field and able to skillfully guide their clients through the estate planning process.
Estate plans can begin with a Living Trust or a Will, each effectively acting as a detailed guide for how the person wishes their estate to be managed.
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
Dying without a Will is called “dying intestate”. It can result in your estate being taxed at a higher rate than it truly needs to be, leave your assets vulnerable to probate, and place immense amounts of stress on your loved ones during their time of loss.
Of course, no one wants to think about what will happen when they die. However, by taking the steps to create a Will and completing the other documents necessary for a complete estate plan, you will be able to preserve your legacy and provide for the ones you care about most.
Your possessions should live on the way you intended, and a Will is a viable legal tool that can be used to accomplish this. Find out if a Will is right for you by speaking with a qualified attorney.
What Estate Planning Documents Do I Need In NY?
The documents needed for estate planning in New York can vary depending on the size of the estate, life circumstances, and the desires of the person who is doing the planning. However, at the base level, the majority of estate plans share some common elements.
The five primary documents that should be included in every estate plan are:
- Will: Outlines the decedent’s wishes concerning the fate of any property, guardianship of children, and more.
- Revocable Trust: Allows much of the estate planning process to be handled outside of probate. A trust names a trustee to manage these affairs on the planner’s behalf once they are no longer able to do so themselves.
- Health Care Directive: Describes end-of-life desires. A health care directive can include conditions where you may not wish to receive invasive medical intervention such as life support.
- HIPAA Form: Provides successor trustees with the authority they need to receive all of your medical records and health information.
- Financial Power of Attorney: Names the person who will handle your finances on your behalf in the event of your incapacitation.
How Much Does Estate Planning Cost In NY?
The cost of establishing an estate plan can widely vary depending on the circumstances at hand. While most attorneys charge by the hour for their services, most will charge a flat rate. The best way to figure out an estimated cost of your particular estate plan is by speaking with an experienced lawyer.
Fier Law Office, P.C. is an established estate planning law firm that has been serving the greater Ronkonkoma, NY area since 1990. If you are interested in setting up an estate plan for yourself, attorney Michael Fier will personally go over your affairs with you and inform you of your options.
Do I Need a New York Estate Planning Attorney?
When you hire a New York Estate Planning attorney, you are going to get a more personalized plan than if you use an online service. An attorney will meet with you in person to discuss, in depth…
- Your family,
- Your family dynamics,
- Your current assets,
- Your future plans, and
- What you would like to see happen.
When we do a will, we usually also do a living will, healthcare proxies, and the appointment of agent from a disposition of remains. In some instances, we would be doing the power of attorney at the same time.
There are also trusts that people sometimes want and many times don’t need, but they’ve read a lot of things and think the trust is what’s best for them.
Speaking with an estate planning attorney can save you a ton of money by tailoring your plan to your specific needs. There are going to be things that you think you need, that you don’t actually end up needing. And there might be things that you haven’t considered that end up being what’s really best for you.
Is Estate Planning Just For What Happens After I Die Or Can Estate Planning Benefit Me During My Lifetime?
An irrevocable trust could benefit you during your lifetime if it’s appropriate for your current situation. With an irrevocable trust, you still get the income from the property that you own.
There is a five-year look-back period to be eligible for Medicaid. As long as you survive the look-back period, you will become Medicaid eligible. Using an irrevocable trust can mean your property doesn’t get dissipated and the trust can then help you pay for a nursing home facility that won’t drain your entire savings.
You will still keep some income from your trust and, when you pass away, be able to leave things to your beneficiaries.
When Is The Best Time For Someone To Begin The Estate Planning Process? Is It Ever Too Early Or Too Late?
It’s never too late to begin the estate planning process. It’s technically never too early to begin estate planning, either, but you need to keep in mind that things change over time. You may need to revisit your estate plan every few years to ensure that there haven’t been any shifts in the law that impact your plan.
Your best time to start planning is when you acquire assets. Once you’re over the age of 21 and have assets, you should have some sort of plan in place in order to ensure those assets go to where you want them to go. Without a will, it will be up to the laws of intestacy to where your assets go.
Your first step is to just have the conversation with an attorney to see what your best options are for your specific situation. Tell your attorney what you want to happen and they can advise you on how best to make that happen.
What Is The Purpose Of The Trust And What Are Some Of The Common Types In New York?
The two most common trusts in New York are the…
- Revocable trust, and
- Irrevocable trust.
A revocable trust is just a way to avoid probate and try to avoid having to have your beneficiaries wait for the surrogate court to determine what happens with your assets. If you put all of your assets in a revocable trust, those assets go immediately to your beneficiaries upon your death. All your beneficiaries need to have is your death certificate in order to access your assets.
If you only have a will, your beneficiaries will first have to go to the surrogate court and probate your will.
An irrevocable trust is a trust that mostly benefits you. You can put money and assets into an irrevocable trust and you can’t touch them other than to derive income from them. That’s to make you Medicaid eligible while protecting your assets. The revocable trust doesn’t make you Medicaid eligible because if you can access the asset, so can the government.
A lot of times the decision between a revocable trust and an irrevocable trust will be based on your age. You may want to use your assets for something or have the freedom to move your money and assets around. If you have an irrevocable trust, you have no control over those assets any longer.
An irrevocable trust is often something that people do later on in life. They want to be Medicaid eligible without losing any of their assets.
How Often Do I Need To Review My Estate Planning Documents? Can I Make Changes And Updates Any Time?
Whether or not you can make changes to your estate planning documents will depend on how it was initially drafted. For instance, if you have an irrevocable trust, not many changes can be made.
With a revocable trust, you are able to make any changes you choose. Wills, too, can always be changed. Some of the reasons people change their wills several times over the years can be…
- They have more children,
- They have more grandchildren,
- Someone previously listed as a beneficiary has predeceased them, or
- Their financial situation has changed.
With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Wills, Trusts & Estates Law Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy.
For more information on Wills, Trusts & Estates Law Cases in New York, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (631) 585-4343 today.