Do you have an estate plan? You may be surprised to know that the truth is, everyone has an estate plan. Whether they realize it or not, the estate of every person will follow a plan after death. For estates large and small, for those who have drafted a plan themselves or not, decisions will be made about what is left behind. Many people make those decisions themselves and leave a will or trust for loved ones to follow. For others who do not create a personal, memorialized plan, the laws of New York will make those decisions for you. Therefore, the real question becomes—does your estate plan accomplish your individual goals?
Whether your estate plan consists of a simple will or a complex combination of estate documents, it deals with the most important issues in your life—your health and your family. At the law office of Antonelli & Antonelli, our lawyers carefully attend to the unique needs presented by each client’s life, family, and finances, and we devise a plan that is tailored to meet your wishes. Don’t let the fate of your estate be decided by default, contact our Manhattan office today to learn more about how you can protect your family’s future.
“I have found Daniel Antonelli to be professional, courteous, polite, and personable. Further, he is down to earth, easy to talk to, listens attentively to what is said, provides feedback and shows genuine interest and concern.” – Phil W., New York, NY, estate planning client
The Basic Estate Plan for New York Individuals and Families
Estate planning consists of making decisions about what will happen to your assets during incapacity or after death; and who will make health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. While it can make people uncomfortable to think about these issues, our legal team is here to help. We make it easy for you to create a simple estate plan that will provide certainty about your future and the future of your family. The basic estate plan consists of:
You have the right to make decisions concerning your health care in advance, and to appoint a trusted person to see those decisions through. A healthcare proxy names a trusted individual to enforce your health care decisions. Your healthcare proxy only takes effect if you no longer have the capacity to make healthcare decisions for yourself.
Power of Attorney
You also have the right to appoint a trusted person to make financial and other non-health related decisions on your behalf, such as handling a bank account or transferring real estate. This is accomplished through the execution of a power of attorney, in which you appoint an agent to act on your behalf. The powers granted to your agent can be as general or specific as you prefer.
Last Will and Testament
By executing a will, you can increase the certainty that your estate assets will transfer according to your wishes. This is accomplished by providing directions as to whom you would like your property to be given to naming an executor to oversee the administration of your estate, a guardian to care for minor children, and a trustee to safeguard assets for any minor beneficiary.
Trust planning is a more complex estate planning technique that can address a variety of issues. A trust is its own legal entity. The grantor, or creator, names one or more trustees who are obligated to manage and administer the trust according to its terms; beneficiaries who are entitled to benefit from the trust (usually income or principal); and terms that direct how the trust is to be managed and administered. Finally, the grantor funds the trust by transferring property into the trust's name. Whereas a power of attorney is only effective during the principal's lifetime, and a will is only effective upon death; a trust is effective during the grantor's life and remains in effect, for a time, after death.
Trusts can be used to: qualify for Medicaid; avoid estate tax; control assets given to a minor; avoid probate; and accomplish various other goals.
An Estate Plan Can Protect Your Wishes and Your Family
Many people don’t think they need an estate plan, or they assume that their assets are not great enough to warrant a plan. Often, they simply trust their family members to do what is best when the time comes. Even a basic estate plan, however, can accomplish important goals, including:
- Respecting your final wishes. Regardless of the size your estate, you’ve worked hard for what you will leave behind. You have the right to decide what happens to your real estate, money, and other assets.
- Clarity. An effective estate plan reduces questions about: who is to be in charge of your estate during incapacity and after death; who should receive particular assets; and who is authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf.
- Preserving valuable time and resources. Estates left without direction fall to the direction of the courts. Often, estates are tied up in legal red tape as an executor is named and then as the executor takes action. This process is often lengthy and costly. Certain estate planning techniques can reduce or eliminate excessive cost and delays.
- Maintaining family relationships. When the time comes to for your family to make decisions about your health care, finances, and distribution of assets, emotions will run high. It can be difficult to make these decisions, and it is not uncommon for family members to struggle to decide what is best. With specific instruction from you, your family can avoid confusion and uncertainty.
Even if you aren’t sure if you need an estate plan or how to even begin to think about the future, don’t hesitate to reach out to the legal team at Antonelli & Antonelli. Our experienced lawyers can help you examine your unique circumstances and needs, and together we can craft a plan that will protect you and your loved ones. Call our Manhattan office or take a moment to fill out the contact form on this page to get started.