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Brooklyn Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

The basics of estate planning in New York

Many people think that estate planning is only for the wealthy, but the truth is that anyone can benefit from advance planning about how to distribute their assets after their death. If you do not consider this important task prior to becoming elderly, ill or incapacitated, and you pass away without a plan, the state probate courts may take over and decide how to distribute what you leave behind.

Taking the time and doing proper estate planning before it is too late is an important part of your overall financial well-being. Estate planning can help your family to avoid conflicts and ensure that you are able to distribute your assets as you see fit.

Talk to your loved ones today about your estate plans

You may think that by creating a will, you are covering all your bases and protecting your assets. But if you do not take the time to consider your loved ones' reactions to it after your death, your final instructions may not carry much weight with them. It is common for the family members of a testator in New York to fail to agree with the final will and last wishes. Once they voice their concerns and file disputes, their disagreement often turns into family conflict and a costly legal battle that eats away at the estate’s value. 

To avoid surprises that could interfere with your last will and testament being followed and leave your family unprepared, you might want to speak to your loved ones about them. Here are some things you should consider when planning to speak to your family about your estate plans to prevent disputes and conflict. 

Key factors for contesting a will

Wills are meant to provide people with a way to designate their assets after their passing. Though this proves to be quite effective in many cases, there are some instances where certain impeding factors negatively alter or improperly affect such decisions.

In those situations, it may be possible to contest the will. There are a few factors you should be aware of to handle this process properly.

The importance of a will in the probate process

For those who desire to take care of their loved ones even after they are gone, an estate plan can be quite helpful. Proper estate planning usually contains a will

Some may not be aware of how important a will is to the probate process, or they may not fully understand what a probate is in itself. These are key aspects to learn if you desire to properly plan for the future of your beneficiaries.

Maintain freedom and options with a pooled income trust

You have worked hard throughout your life, and you deserve to enjoy your retirement. However, certain rules and regulations can make this difficult at times.

A pooled income trust may be beneficial if you are looking for a way to support yourself on your retirement budget. This option may even help you to stay in your home as you enjoy your golden days.

Understanding key facts about revocable and irrevocable trusts

To relieve the burden on your loved ones, you want to make sure that your affairs are in order before your passing. This is where an estate plan comes into play. A proper estate plan lays out your wishes and orders in regards to all of your belongings and capital.

A solid estate plan will include a trust. Depending upon your specific circumstances, it may be better to select a revocable or an irrevocable trust. As you weigh your options for a trust, consider these key facts about revocable and irrevocable trusts.

The process to obtain guardianship over an incapacitated adult

Many adults deal with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. If your loved one is incapacitated, you may want to step in and manage their life. To do this legally, you need to be granted guardianship of that person, taking them as a ward. 

Obtaining guardianship over a person over 18 years old falls under the Article 81 Guardianship statutes. In New York, any person over the age of 18 can petition the court to make legal decisions for another person who is unable to manage their affairs. The guardian also needs to be a citizen of the United States and cannot have a criminal record. 

VA benefits for elderly veterans

The Veteran’s Administration estimates that there are more than 12 million veterans in the United States who are over the age of 65. Many of these veterans are not aware of the benefits available to them through the VA.

Two programs that are especially helpful for senior citizens are Aid and Attendance and Housebound. These benefits are in addition to a monthly pension, and the veteran must be eligible for a pension to receive these funds. These programs raise the pension amount, but there are many conditions on receiving these benefits. 

Consider a power of attorney before you become incapacitated

A power of attorney is a document in which you, the principal, name another person, an agent or attorney-in-fact to act in matters on your behalf. Many military personnel create POAs before deploying overseas in case something happens that needs immediate attention or in case they become incapacitated. Incapacity is probably the most common reason people need POAs. A limited POA lets someone act in a specific situation. For example, you want your son to help you sell your home or help you move into a care facility. Upon completion of the task, the POA ends. 

You might want to grant a financial power of attorney to one child to help you manage your stock and investment accounts. You could also divvy up responsibilities among your children with specific POAs. One person could manage day-to-day bills while another has access to long-term accounts. 

5 Common myths about estate planning

It can be confusing to think about wills, trusts, health care directives and powers of attorney, but it is important to consider estate planning sooner rather than later. Do it for your family instead of leaving the state a portion of your estate when you die. Here are five common misunderstandings about estate planning to help you see the value in having a plan for your assets.

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