5 Reasons YOU Should Have an Estate Plan

Many people procrastinate about creating an Estate Plan.  Here are the Top 5 reasons why you should create an estate plan nowtop 5 reasons

  • 1. Minor Children- In the event of a catastrophic accident making sure that your children are cared for in the event of you and your partners death is absolutely necessary. With some simple estate planning you can designate a guardian who would take care of your children in the event of a disaster.

  • 2. Intestacy- New York has a default estate plan for you if you die without a will.  This can possibly mean leaving money outright to an eighteen year old so they can spend it on a Corvette instead of College or having your estate pass to your Uncle George who you despise.

  •  3.  Guardianship- Besides a will, a power of attorney and health care proxy are necessary for your estate plan.  If you do not have these documents and you become incapacitated a Guardianship proceeding may be brought for you and this proceeding can be very costly.

  • 4.  Protecting Beneficiaries- If you have a beneficiary who is receiving public benefits such as Medicaid, an inheritance might disqualify them from these public benefits.  A supplemental needs trust can be created so that the beneficiary would not become disqualified from public benefits and this money could be used to supplement their care.

  • 5.  Reduce or Avoid Estate Tax-  The use of disclaimer wills or trusts can reduce or completely avoid New York Estate tax.

Pet Trusts- Providing for your pet upon your passing

pet trusts She wakes up next to you every morning, cuddles with you on the couch when you are having a bad day, and is the first to give you a kiss when you get home from work. I’m talking about Roxy, your golden retriever.  You think of Roxy as family and family should be provided for in your estate plan.

 How can I provide for my pet in my estate plan?

Under the law of all 50 states, a pet owner cannot leave money to a pet directly. I think it is due to pets having trouble getting money out of the banks, even BarKlays (ba-dum-ch). One of the best ways to provide for your pet is by creating a pet trust.  New York enacted E.P.T.L §7-8.1 to allow trusts to be created for your pet so that you have the peace of mind knowing that someone is taking care of Roxy when you become incapacitated or pass away.  This trust can either be created during your lifetime or be created upon your passing in your will.

 How it works

pet trusts2The trust will be funded with a certain amount of money from your estate. In the trust you will appoint a trustee, a caregiver, possibly a successor trustee, and possibly a successor caregiver. The trustee is the person who will oversee the money of the trust that will be used for your pet. The caregiver is the person who will take care of your pet.  The trustee and caregiver can be the same person. The money in the trust will be used for the benefit of the pet during the pet’s lifetime. The trust can also specify that funds will go to the caregiver for their service to your pet. Upon the passing of your beloved pet, the trust will specify where the remaining funds will be distributed.

 So love your pets and make sure that they are provided for when you no longer can provide for them. If you live in Brooklyn or any of the surrounding boroughs feel free to give us a call at (718) 875-2191 or request a consultation.

What happens when there is a Guardianship proceeding for my Elderly Parent?

The Guardianship proceeding can be difficult to understand. There are many different participants in the Guardianship proceeding.

The first participant is called the petitioner. This is the person that starts the guardianship proceeding. Many times this is a concerned family member who wants to take care of an Elderly parent’s health care decisions and financial well being. When the petitioner starts the proceeding, the lawyer for the petitioner or the petitioner themselves submits two documents to the court. These documents are the order to show cause and the petition.

 The Petition outlines why the alleged incapacitated person (AIP) is in need of a guardian. The petition normally outlines instances when the alleged incapacitated person was in need of assistance and why the alleged incapacitated person needs assistance, lists financial assets of the alleged incapacitated person, lists if there were any estate planning documents of the alleged incapacitated person, and asks the court to grant the petitioner power over the alleged incapacitated person.

 The order to show cause is also submitted to the court. This document outlines the powers that the Guardian is looking to obtain. It informs the alleged incapacitated person of their rights and the powers that may be taken from them if the petition is granted. This document also sets the time and place of the Guardianship hearing. It orders the petitioner to put on their case (show cause) why a guardian should be appointed for the alleged incapacitated person at a specific date and time. The order to show cause also adds two new participants to the guardianship proceeding, the court evaluator and counsel to the alleged incapacitated person.

 The court is obligated to provide representation to the alleged incapacitated person under MHL 81.10. The alleged incapacitated person also has the right to retain their own counsel as well. Counsel to the alleged incapacitated person will speak with the alleged incapacitated person, find out if advance directive has been executed, and will represent the alleged incapacitated person’s position.

 The court evaluator is appointed by the court to investigate the allegations in the petition and provide the court a report as to the court evaluator’s findings. The court evaluator acts as the eyes and ears of the court and tries to provide a complete view of the circumstances involved in the guardianship proceeding. This involves the court evaluator conducting interviews with the alleged incapacitated person, the petitioner, and all parties involved. The court evaluator may review financial statements of the alleged incapacitated person, attempt to locate any estate planning documents, and may review health care records.

 The Petitioner, Court Evaluator, and Counsel to the Alleged Incapacitated Person are all participants in the Guardianship proceeding. If you would like to inquire about any of our guardianship services, feel free to give us a call at (718)875-2191 or fill out a contact form or request a consultation.