Estate planning can seem like an overwhelming task if you are a layperson and you don’t know where to begin. This is perfectly understandable, and in this post, we will provide an overview of the essential documents that should be part of every estate plan.
Will or Trust
The plan will start with a vehicle of asset transfer, and the simple will is a possibility. However, there are drawbacks and limitations when you use a will.
First, you would be providing lump sum inheritances to the beneficiaries, and there would be no asset protection or spending safeguards. There is also the matter of probate and the difficulties that go along with it.
A will is admitted to probate, which is a proceeding that is supervised by the Surrogate’s Court. Probate expenses will typically consume somewhere between three percent and seven percent of the value of the estate. There is a loss of privacy, because probate records are publicly available.
In addition to these two drawbacks, there is the time consumption. It will usually take somewhere in the vicinity of a year for the court to probate an estate, and the inheritors receive nothing during this interim.
If you do not like what you are hearing about probate, you could use a living trust as the centerpiece of your estate plan. This would be a revocable trust, and you would be able to act as the trustee while you are living.
After your passing, the successor trustee that you name in the document would distribute assets to the beneficiaries outside of probate. A spendthrift clause would protect the principal from the beneficiary’s creditors, and you can provide limited distributions on an incremental basis.
The revocable living trust is just one of many different types of trusts that can be used, and the right choice will depend on the circumstances. When you work with our firm to establish a plan, we will gain an understanding of your situation and make the appropriate recommendations.
Another must-have document is a living will. With this type of will, you express your wishes with regard to the use of feeding tubes, artificial hydration, resuscitation, and mechanical respiration.
The document can also include your organ and tissue donation choices, and if you have comfort care medication preferences, you can spell them out in your living will.
Health Care Proxy
In addition to a living will, you should have another advance directives for health care called a health care proxy. You name an agent to act as your representative for health care decision-making in this document. These would be decisions that are not related to the use of life-support.
Due to a provision contained within the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), health care professionals cannot share medical data with anyone other than the patient.
To give your health care representative (and anyone else that you want to include) access to your medical records, you should include a HIPAA authorization.
Durable Power of Attorney for Property
Physical health problems can make it possible to communicate your own decisions, and many elders experience cognitive impairment late in their lives. From a financial perspective, you can use a durable power of attorney to name someone to manage your affairs if it becomes necessary.
We should point out the fact that you can account for incapacity if you have a living trust. When you are creating the trust declaration, you can name a disability trustee to assume the role if it becomes necessary.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
You can be certain that all of your bases will be covered if you work with our New York City estate planning attorney to develop a custom crafted plan that ideally suits your needs.
If you are ready to get started, you can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 212-973-0100.