Last Will and Testament
A will is a written document that identifies who will receive your property and assets in the event of your death. It can also state whom you wish to act as guardian of your children who are minors and their property. The will names someone to act as executor, overseeing the probate of your estate and carrying out your wishes as spelled out in the will. If you lack a will, the court will appoint an administrator in the event of your death, who will then distribute your property and assets according to New York State Law. A will must meet certain requirements of New York State. Trust an experienced estate lawyer to give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing everything will be done just as you want it to be.
Durable Power of Attorney
This allows someone whom you name (your attorney-in-fact) to handle your personal and/or financial affairs in the event you are unable to do so due to health or absence. You choose what “powers” you wish this person to have. You can give them full or limited power to include real estate transactions, bond and commodity transactions, insurance and estate transactions, claim and litigation matters, retirement benefits, tax matters, and more. A Power of Attorney is in effect until revoked. Please note that, upon death, a POA is no longer valid and your attorney-in-fact no longer has the authority to handle such matters.
Health Care Proxy/Living Will
This document gives instructions to a trusted individual to carry your health care affairs if you are unable to do so, and allows this person to advocate your wishes for you. A living will is an attachment to a health care proxy that makes clear your objections to unwanted medical procedures, or being kept alive by machines or artificial nutrition in circumstances where there is no reasonable chance of recovery as per a doctor’s opinion.
There are several different kinds of trusts that can be used to hold assets for beneficiaries or to avoid probate. A trust can be set up in an Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust Agreement, a Charitable Reminder Trust, trusts for children or grandchildren, Credit Shelter Trust, or Supplemental Needs Trust. However, the two most common are revocable and irrevocable trusts. Each has specific advantages and it’s important to discuss which works best for your circumstances and finances.
In order to have any of the above documents prepared and issued, you must be competent and fully understand what you are doing. Having a will, POA, or health care proxy/living will prepared by an experienced estate lawyer will make it easier for your loved ones to act on your behalf and carry out your wishes.
The information above is very basic and is not meant to serve as legal advice. If you wish to discuss your case in more depth with an estate laywer, please call us at 716-243-8694. We offer free consultations regarding your personal situation.