While no one likes to talk about it, death is one of the realities of life. The older we get, the more we need to start thinking about end-of-life care as well as what will happen to our assets when we are gone. Older adults in New York who do not already have an estate plan in place should start the estate planning process as soon as possible to give themselves and their families peace of mind.
What is involved in the estate planning process?
There are a few main parts of just about every estate plan. These essential documents protect you and your assets and ensure that your beneficiaries are taken care of once you pass away. An estate planning attorney can help you decide what you need to include in your specific plan.
The most important document of an estate plan is often the will. A will allows you to:
- Name a trusted person to be the executor of your estate. This person will be in charge of distributing assets, paying off debts, and otherwise managing your estate after you’re gone, in accordance with your wishes.
- Appoint a guardian to your minor children or dependents.
- Assign beneficiaries and dictate who gets which assets.
A trustee will be put in charge of any assets put into a trust fund on behalf of the beneficiaries. The trustee will be responsible for making sure the beneficiary gets whatever they are entitled to receive when the time comes. There are many benefits to creating a trust, such as lower taxes and the avoidance of probate court. A revocable trust will allow you to make changes
Durable power of attorney (POA)
A POA is essential because it allows you to assign decision-making powers to another person. Your POA will step in to handle your finances and assets and make decisions on your behalf, if you ever become physically or mentally unable to make decisions for yourself.
Healthcare power of attorney (HCPA) and medical directive
A HCPA allows you to give someone else the power to make decisions related to your health if you are ever incapacitated. A medical directive will give your HCPA a guide as to the type of medical care you would want to receive if you were able to make the decision for yourself.
Older adults need to make estate planning a priority. An estate planning attorney can help draft all the documents needed for your estate plan and continue to update them as needed.