Every competent adult should execute a Last Will and Testament. This legal document determines how your estate will be distributed upon your death. It keeps decision-making in your hands, where it belongs, allowing you to dispose of your assets to whom and in whatever manner you see fit.
Without a Will, New York’s laws of intestacy will determine how your assets will be distributed. For example, $50,000 plus one-half of your assets will be distributed to your spouse, with the rest of your assets passing to your children, even if they are minors. If you do not have a spouse, your entire estate will pass to your children. If you do not have a spouse or children, your estate will pass to your surviving parent(s), followed by your siblings if your parents have predeceased you. As you can see, this is a very specific group of individuals who shall inherit from you and it may not comport with your wishes.
The first step is to find a reputable elder law or estate planning attorney like the attorneys at Cona Elder Law. You want to hire an attorney who practices only in this field. Then you want to gather asset and other information requested by the attorney with whom you will meet.
In addition to a Will, you need to consider Advance Directives, namely, a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy and Living Will. A Power of Attorney is a legal document wherein you name an agent(s) to handle your financial affairs, such as banking, real estate transactions, asset protection planning, and more should you become unable to do so yourself.
A Health Care Proxy is a document wherein you designate someone to make medical decisions and communicate with medical providers on your behalf should you be unable to do so. A health care agent can only make decisions for you once a doctor has determined that you can no longer make those decisions yourself.
A Living Will is a document wherein you state your wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as artificial nutrition and hydration, pain management, and administration of CPR. By stating your wishes in this document, your loved ones do not need to make these extremely difficult decisions. Instead, they must honor your wishes.
Contact our office at 631.390.5000 to schedule your appointment to review your estate planning needs.
Jennifer B. Cona, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Cona Elder Law PLLC. Cona Elder Law is an award-winning law firm concentrating in the areas of elder law, estate planning, estate administration and litigation, and health care law. The firm has been ranked the #1 Elder Law Firm by Long Island Business News for eight consecutive years.
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