WILLS and ESTATE PLANNING

How You and Your Family Can Benefit from a Personal Plan

With the guidance of an attorney, a personal plan will ensure that your loved ones
are provided for in the event of your death or disability.

For most individuals, developing a personal plan involves the following:

  • Will
  • Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Review of life insurance coverages and pensions
  • Review of real property ownership

The legal fee for developing a personal plan is minimal, especially considering the time and expense it will save in the event of your death or disability.

A Will is the Central Part of
Your Personal Plan

A Will is tailored to your individual needs. If you die without a Will, your property will be distributed pursuant to rules and formulas established by New York State Law. For instance, if you die with a spouse and children, your spouse takes the first $50,000 of your estate, and one-half the balance. Your children would divide the rest. This distribution may not be according to your wishes.

A Will Allows Specific Items to
Be Left to Specific Individuals

You may have family heirlooms, jewelry, or other items of sentimental value that you wish to go to a specific person. A Will ensures that this is done. If you die without a Will, these items could be subject to sale, with the proceeds divided among your heirs.

A Will Allows You to Make
A Charitable Bequest

A Will allows you to leave money or property to a charitable organization. Without a Will, this type of bequest is impossible, unless consented to by all distributes of your estate.

A Will Allows You to
Appoint an Executor

An executor is the person responsible for ensuring that the provisions of your . Will are carried out. The executor is responsible for collecting the estate's assets. In addition the executor hires an attorney to handle the estate's legal matters, and hires a realtor, if necessary, to assist in the sale of real estate. An executor can be your spouse, a relative, or trusted friend. If you die without a Will, New York State Law designates who will act as the administrator of your estate. In addition, an administrator may be required to post a bond or other security, which will be an expense of your estate. Your Will can provide that an executor may serve without the necessity of
posting a bond.

A Will Allows You to Leave Your Property In Trust For Designated Individuals

A Will allows you to leave your property in trust for minor children, or other individuals who should have someone else manage their financial affairs, and allows you to appoint a trustee. If you die without a Will, a trust will be established by the court, who will then appoint a trustee. The court will also require the trustee to post a bond - a added expense.

A Will Allows You to Designate
A Guardian For Your Children

A Will allows you to appoint a guardian for your children if you die before they reach age 18. This enables you to designate a person or persons who you believe will act in the best interests of your children. If you die without a will the Surrogates Court will appoint a guardian for your children.

A Will Can Be Easily Amended

An Attorney can draft a Will that will anticipate changing circumstances,while still following your wishes; Also a will is easily amended by the drafting of a new will.

Completing Your Personal Plan

For various reasons, it may be more advantageous to have certain property pass outside your Will, through gifts, trusts, or by adding persons as joint tenants to real property, or to accounts as joint account holders. An attorney can advise which method best meets your personal needs, while minimizing estate. taxes and
other expenses for your estate.

An attorney can also assist you
with the preparation of these other important documents:

  • Power of Attorney: This document gives another person the authority to handle your affairs in the event of your absence or incapacity.
  • Living Will: This document is an expression of your wishes in the event of a catastrophic illness or accident.
  • Health care Proxy: This document appoints another person to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you are unable to do so.

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