Westchester County Estate Planning
As of 2010, about 14% of the population of Westchester County was 65 years old or older. Nearly a quarter of the population was between the ages of 45 and 64, a time during which many people start considering their estate planning needs. It is important to think about estate planning once you are an adult, even if you believe that you are years away from poor health, disability, or death. During the estate planning process, you can decide who should receive your property upon your death and who should make decisions for you if you are incapacitated, and you can think through which kinds of medical care you would want under certain circumstances. It is critical to consult an experienced Westchester County estate planning lawyer who can advise you on your options and draft the documents necessary to achieve your objectives.Common Forms of Estate Planning Instruments
Anybody can face a serious illness or disability at some point during life. All adults should plan for what they would prefer to have happen in case of these events prior to their death. Our firm can help you determine what you want and draft the instruments necessary to carry out your wishes in case of incapacitation. Documents that you may need include advance directives and durable powers of attorney.
Also, anyone with property should have an enforceable last will and testament created, irrespective of age. If this has not been drawn up, your property will be distributed based on intestacy rules. Usually, a spouse or child inherits under the intestacy rules, but not everyone wants this outcome. Some people become estranged from certain family members and develop closer ties to others.
You can only create a valid will if you have testamentary capacity to do so. As a "testator," you must be capable of understanding that you are transferring property in the will, and you must understand that the will is a formal document with legal consequences. You must also be at least 18 in age. Although a lawyer's help is not officially required, it is wise to consult an estate planning attorney in Westchester County and have the attorney draft an enforceable will. After your death, there is the possibility that a loved one who does not like the way that you distributed your property will bring a will contest, which is less likely to succeed if a professional helped you draft your will. In order to be enforceable, a will needs to be signed in front of two witnesses. The witnesses must sign the will, and it can be notarized, but it does not need to be. When a will is notarized, it is self-proving, which means that the court will not need to take the time to contact the two witnesses who signed the will.
After a testator's death, wills need to go through probate. This is a process that takes time, and the assistance of a New York probate lawyer can be essential. Many people would prefer their loved ones to be able to avoid probate. This can be accomplished when a testator holds assets as a joint tenant with another person or when a testator puts funds in accounts that require the designation of a beneficiary, to whom the funds pass automatically upon the account holder's death. A Westchester County estate planning attorney can help you use these strategies. Trusts can be important instruments by which to avoid or shorten the probate process. There are several different kinds of trusts. Essentially, a trust is an arrangement in which one party (the "trustor") gives another (the "trustee") the right to hold title to property or assets for a third party's (the "beneficiary's") benefit. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiary or beneficiaries. Among other things, the trustee is supposed to make sure that the assets are handled or distributed according to the trustor's wishes as expressed in the trust documents. Sometimes a trust can reduce an inheritance or estate tax. There are different kinds of trusts, and it can be critical to consult an attorney about choosing the right kind to achieve your personal goals.Seek Advice from an Estate Planning Lawyer in Westchester County
Attorney Jules Haas has compiled over 35 years of experience in helping clients achieve their estate planning goals. He works tirelessly toward client satisfaction, and he helps clients decide how to articulate their wishes and then draft the instruments needed to execute them. Contact us at (212) 355-2575 or through our online form.