Estate planning mistakes

These days the internet offers many ways to create your own estate planning documents and you can take that route if you want to save money, but you are better off hiring a professional to insure all your documentation is legally valid. We suggest you not do the following.

Don’t consult an expert

There’s nothing wrong with saving some dough by drafting your own estate-planning documents. You can find templates for basic wills and such online or in bookstores. But that should be followed with a review of those documents by an expert to insure everything is in order

Massachusetts estate planner Leanna Hamill, told AARP that, “Ninety percent of the online estate planning documents I see don’t do what the people think they’re going to do. I’ve seen people use online documents, documents out of estate-planning books or documents borrowed from friends. But they screw up their estate plan because they don’t understand the legal and technical aspects of the documents.”

Hamill told AARP that she knows of one client who signed a deed transferring his house to a trust but hadn’t properly created the trust. Thus, the deed had no effect. Another client’s confusion over the term “beneficiary” resulted in the immediate transfer of all his property to his children and required him to pay them an annual income, leaving his wife in the cold.

So even though you can do it yourself, err on the safe  side and contact a professional like Jeffrey Weinstein @  212-693-3737 for a free consultation.

 

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Health Care Proxy. Should you have one?

Under the New York Health Care Proxy Law you can appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions for you if you lose the ability to make those decisions yourself. That person is considered your health care proxy or agent

A health care proxy is a way to eliminate confusion among your loved ones and health care providers about your health care wishes should you no longer b able t make those decsions yourself. Hospitals, doctors, and other medical providers must follow the agent’s decisions as if they were your own.

Here are a some common questions and answers about health care proxies:

Who can be your health care agent?

Anyone 18 years of age or older, including a family member or close friend can be your health care proxy.

A doctor can act either as your proxy or your attending doctor, but not as both simultaneously. A number of special rules apply to patients or residents of a nursing home, hospital, or mental health facility who want to name a staff member as an agent.

What powers do health care proxies have?

Your proxy can decide how your wishes apply as your medical condition changes, but he or she is legally obligated to always act in your best interest.

The person you select as your health care agent will have as little or as much authority as you want. You may allow your agent to make all health care decisions or only certain ones.

A health care proxy is different from a living will because it does not require that you know in advance all the decisions that may arise. Nevertheless, you may give your agent instructions that he or she must follow and specify on the form the treatments you do or do not want.

Also, note that you can continue to make health care decisions for yourself as long as you’re able. You can also cancel the authority given to your agent by informing him or her or your health care provider orally or in writing.

To appoint a health care proxy, you and your agent must sign a New York health care proxy form in the presence of two adult witnesses. This is best done in an attorney’s office like the Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein. Mr Weinstein is an estate professional and can guide you through what you need to do to insure your wishes are carried out.

Here are some instances when you would need a proxy:

  • You are in a coma from an accident or illness.
  • You are terminally ill and not expected to recover.
  • You have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia.
  • You are under general anesthesia, when something unexpected occurs.
  • You are in a persistent vegetative state.
  • You suffered from an illness that left you unable to communicate.

 

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Estate planning, not just a good idea.

End-of-life planning isn’t fun.  In fact, it’s a drag. But it’s an important aspect of managing your assets and protecting your family. That’s why it’s surprising that 6 out of 10 Americans don’t have estate planning documents, much less a will.

Surveys show only 42 percent of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust. For those with kids under 18, it’s even lower, just 36 percent.

People don’t like thinking about death especially their own.That study was conducted in January by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, who asked 1,003 adults whether they currently have estate-planning documents in case of their death, and if not, why not?

Debbi King, author of “The ABC’s of Personal Finance” says,  “This is the ‘I’m going to live forever’ theory. No one literally thinks that, but we all want to believe we are going to live until our 80s or 90s so we don’t think we need a will right now. This isn’t true, of course. We all have an expiration date and no one knows exactly when it will be. The best thing you can do for your loved ones is have a will now.”

The Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein is here to help you with all your estate planning needs. Call us for a free consultation.

 

 

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Dying in debt

Pretty much everyone dies with some amount of debt, Mostly it’s run-of-the-mill bills. But there can be some debt that can shock heirs, especially if they didn’t know about it. Creditors need to be paid so the question is, so does all debt need to be settled? The short answer is: that depends.

Your liability depends on the nature of your debt. Mortgages and other debt secured by property must be paid, while unsecured debt such as credit cards and student loans, are another matter entirely. Your liability depends very much on the nature of the bill, the type of property and your state’s laws. The following applies to New York State.

If an accounting of your debts exceed the value of your estate, probate may not be the way to go. If there’a not enough money in your estate to pay your creditors, a court will have to make a settlement which is an additional cost to the estate. There are instances where it might be advisable to proceed with probate, but you should obtain experienced counsel before proceeding. The Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein can help you navigate this process. Call us for a free consultation. 347-305-8752.

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Inheritance laws in New York

New York is one of 12 states that tax estates of decedents people who owned property in the state.  Now besides that, there are other things you need to know when estate planning.

New York doesn’t charge inheritance tax, but the estate tax comes with one big provision. Though December 31st of this year there is a  $5.5 million exemption which means if the value of the estate is less than $5.5 million, the estate tax is waived.

That tax is in addition to the federal estate tax that hits individual estates worth more than $11,180,000 between gross assets and prior taxable gifts to pay within nine months of the individual’s death. You can get a six-month extension. But chances are you don’t have an estate worth $11 million. Only a few thousand people do.

New York estate property categories

There are only two categories in New York: personal property and real property, Real property is what you probably think it is; land and houses. Personal property is everything else. New York is not a community property state so the surviving spouse doesn’t automatically inherit the deceased’s property.

It does, however have what they call  a spousal right of election when deciding on inheritances for spouses. This law states that should a spouse pass away, his or her spouse will receive an “elective share” of $50,000 or one-third of the decedent’s estate. Should a spouse not receive this elective share, he or she has the right to file for it as long as it’s within a six-month window after an executor for the estate has been named.

Importance of a will 

If you die with a will in New York things are normally pretty straight forward, but it will still need to go through probate and people can challenge the will. There are ways to avoid probate and the Law Offices of Jeffrey Weinstein can help you avoid probate.

The State  entitles surviving spouses who have disinherited them to a piece of their estate. But this is limited to non-probate assets, such as property held in joint tenancy or a jointly held brokerage account paid on death to beneficiaries.

Dying without a will

An administration proceeding is the most common legal event that occurs in New York if you die without a valid will, but you own property. If when you pass away you don’t have a will, your estate consists of either jointly-owned or no real property, and your personal property is worth less than $30,000, you must file as a small estate.

Without a will, if you only own real property, it goes to your nearest relative.

There are other issues involve in estate planning and the law offices of Jeffrey Weinstein  347-305-8752 can help you navigate the process to lessen the hassle for you and your heirs.

 

 

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