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Rochester Estate Planning Law Blog

Changes in life require changes to an estate plan

New York residents who believe they have fulfilled the need to have an estate plan and simply leave the document as is without changing it are often making a mistake. With the inevitable changes in life, there are times that an estate plan is no longer as current and applicable to the circumstances as it was when drafting estate planning documents. Therefore, it is wise to think about life changes and act accordingly by updating an estate plan. Knowing when to do so is key.

Those who have crafted an estate plan should think about various factors, including the possibility that the person will be incapacitated and need a power of attorney. This is true even for people who have just reached legal adulthood at age 18 and are being proactive by creating an estate plan. Getting married is a critical juncture in a person's life and with the new life should come a new estate plan. During the marriage planning, there are some difficult discussions that are important. That includes whether there will be a prenuptial agreement or not and how the assets will be distributed if one spouse dies.

Estate planning steps parents should consider after divorce

There are several estate planning changes you should consider after divorce whether you are a parent or not. These considerations can include updating your health care proxy, financial power of attorney, will, trust and beneficiary designations. The people you select to inherit from your estate, to manage your affairs and to make decisions on your behalf should always be the people you trust most, which probably is not your former spouse. However, as a divorced parent, you may have some special estate planning considerations as well.

Appoint a guardian

Legal help with advanced medical directives in an estate plan

When New Yorkers are preparing for the future by creating strategies for an estate plan, there are certain aspects of it that can be difficult. While it is known that everyone's life is finite and the end is unavoidable, it can be difficult to think about a time when end of life planning is needed. However, those who have strong feelings on end of life care must make certain their estate plan addresses their wishes for such a time. In these cases, an advanced medical directive is important. To understand how to craft the document properly, legal advice is a must.

The advanced medical directive will state the person's wishes for how they will be cared for in the event of a medical emergency if they are unable to communicate with family members and medical professionals. For example, the medical directive can clearly state that a person wants certain treatments, but does not want others. They are not required to give a reason for it. It could be due to a personal belief that these treatments are not how they want to live; it could be based on religious beliefs; or there could be no reason at all - just a preference.

How a revocable trust can be useful as part of an estate plan

When New Yorkers are thinking about setting up their estate plan, nearly everyone understands what a will is. Creating a will is relatively easy, regardless of the person's financial and personal situation. However, not all situations are simple and more complex situations will need more thought into the kind of estate plan that is needed. This is where a trust can be useful. Understanding when and why a trust is beneficial can help the decision-making process immensely.

A revocable trust can address common worries that people might face. When the grantor of the trust dies, the trust will still be in effect to govern the wishes of the grantor. In some instances, the grantor is also the trustee. If this is the case, the trust should have successor trustees named. If a revocable trust is used, probate can be avoided, which can save time and money. Since a trust does not go through probate, the process will be completely private, and the contents of the trust will not be made public.

What are the easiest steps to take when creating an estate plan?

Estate planning is not a simple process for most people, despite how little their assets may be. It is often a complex system of laws, filled with clauses, exemptions, stipulations and more. How does the average person manage to create a satisfying estate plan? One step at a time.

Legal oversight is crucial to the success of an estate plan. And getting started is often the hardest part of the process. Once individuals and families get together and start discussing inheritance and future responsibility, the better off their estate plan will be.

Qualities to look for when selecting the executor of your will

Deciding to make a last will and testament is a big step, but the process of drafting this document will involve making several more decisions along the way. One of those decisions involves choosing a person or entity to be the executor of your will.

The executor of your will is tasked with managing your final financial obligations. This can involve numerous tasks, such as tracking down your assets and liabilities, maintaining your property, paying claims against the estate, making court appearances and distributing your assets according to your will.

Everyone needs a basic estate plan, regardless of age and health

For many New Yorkers, estate planning is not something they actively think about. It is an unfortunate reality that life is fleeting, and people can suddenly find themselves in need of these vital documents. Estate planning can ensure their assets are allocated as they wish, their family is protected, and other common issues are addressed. With the recent news stories of wealthy people who died without estate planning documents, it is imperative to be prepared for the future. Knowing the basics is fundamental.

Whether it is a simple estate or a more complex one, those who want the basics should consider three documents. Wills are useful to ensure assets are distributed the way the testator wants. When there is no will, the state will analyze the situation based on the law and determine how to distribute the property. In many instances, this is different from what the person would have wanted had they crafted a will. Wills can apply to anything, including real estate, bank accounts, artwork and more. If there are children under 18, a guardian can be named to care for the child. Anything that the person wants done after they have passed on can be mentioned in the will.

Lack of estate planning is common for those 55 and above

New Yorkers who have a well-crafted estate plan are taking necessary steps to prepare for the future. While this is a relatively obvious need, many ignore it. Surprisingly, a significant portion of those who fail to create even a basic estate plan are people 55 and older. Having strategies for the long-term is critical and legal help is vital to accomplish this.

A study by Age Wave and Merrill Lynch found that around 45 percent of people 55 and above have not made a will. The study examined 3,000 adults and gauged how people 55 and older felt about planning for the end of their lives. Although this can be a difficult issue to think about, nine out of 10 stated they were willing to talk about it.

When is a surviving spouse disqualified in an intestate case?

Not every New Yorker has an estate plan that details how he or she wants property distributed after death. Similarly, not every family situation is a smooth one where even an intestate case is relatively easy to deal with where the state will simply follow the law in determining what the spouse and other heirs get and there is little dispute. One situation that can be confusing is if there is a surviving spouse, but the law requires that he or she be disqualified. To address this situation, it is important for the heirs to have legal assistance.

The surviving spouse will not be able to inherit the decedent's property if there was a final judgment or decree of divorce, if the marriage was annulled, if it was nullified or dissolved because of absence if this was in effect at the time of death. If the marriage had been voided because it was incestuous, bigamous or prohibited will also eliminate the surviving spouse as an intestate heir. Had the spouse gotten a final divorce decree, an annulment or dissolution due to absence and it occurred outside the state, it is not viewed as valid.

A health care proxy and a living will can work in tandem

A health care proxy and a living will are both legal documents that address the type of medical care you would or would not like to receive in the event you become unable to communicate those wishes to your doctors. Although these documents are often used by those who are planning for end of life care, they are not just for the elderly. All adults can use these documents to be prepared in case something unexpected happens.

A health care proxy names an alternate decision maker

  • I wanted to write to say how pleased my wife and I were at your professional handling of our estate planning and preparation of new wills. We were put at ease by your visit to our home for an interview and were pleased that you listened to us and captured the things that we felt were important.

    --Robert and Christine Simonson, Fairport
  • In order to finalize the documents we came to your office and were greeted in a very professional manner and we could not have asked for finer service. We left with copies of everything we needed and feel very confident our needs have been met. Thanks again. We will surely recommend you should the opportunity arise.

    — Christine and Robert Simonson, Fairport
  • I have been working with Weinstein & Randisi for about two years now. Elizabeth Randisi, through a very thorough process, has helped my wife and me determine what is really important in our lives. Thus, we were able to draft a living will that reflected our most important values regarding our estate.

    --David and Ajia Cherry, Fairport
  • I would like to give a testimony for Elizabeth Randisi, an estate attorney with Weinstein & Randisi. Her knowledge of wills and estate planning was clearly demonstrated in her presentation to us. Realizing our need for a will, my husband and I went to see Elizabeth.

    --Kathy and Gary Gray, Webster
  • Filing for Medicaid is never an easy or fun process. However, working with the Weinstein & Randisi firm made the process simple and streamlined. We were able to obtain all files and records regarding Medicaid enrollment within a few days using specially prepared checklists and verbiage recommended by our assigned paralegal.

    --Ajia and David Cherry, Fairport
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