Estate planning is about more than just creating wills and trusts. When you think about estate planning, you likely think about making provisions for who inherits your assets after you have passed away. While this an essential part of creating a comprehensive estate plan, it is not the only important part of your plan. You need to ensure that you consider both your legacy as well as what will happen towards the end of your life.
An experienced Smithtown estate planning lawyer can provide you with invaluable assistance understanding everything that your estate plan should include. Mark S. Eghrari & Associates PLLC will not only help you to create wills and trusts but will also assist you in tackling many of the other essential issues you need to address to ensure you have dignity for all of your life and to ensure that you have assets to leave behind for your friends and family.
Guide to Estate Planning Basics
Creating an estate plan involves three fundamental things: protecting your assets, protecting your autonomy, and protecting your loved ones.
- Asset protection is essential both during your life and after your death.
If you have to go into a nursing home, you could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and have no assets to leave behind. You can get Medicaid to pay for your nursing home, but New York State Department of Health explains eligibility requirements for Medicaid and makes clear that you have to have few assets. Creating a Medicaid plan lets you structure asset ownership so the money and property you want to leave for your heirs won’t count when determining eligibility.
You also want to make sure that the inheritance you leave behind won’t be lost or wasted. When you use the right type of trust, you can protect spendthrift heirs by ensuring they don’t waste all the money and you can ensure that any money you leave to someone with special needs is used to enrich their life without causing loss of access to government benefits. You can also protect assets so they aren’t lost if your heirs go bankrupt or get divorced.
Finally, if your estate is large enough, there is a risk that estate taxes will have to be paid upon death. This is a big problem for owners of family farms and family businesses with lots of money tied up in the company or land. The property or land might have to be sold or a loan taken out to pay the taxes because there is not enough cash or other liquid assets from the inheritance to pay the tax bill. Estate taxes can sometimes be avoided or reduced through effective estate planning.
- Protecting your autonomy is essential in case of incapacity
Your estate plans should include a plan for what happens if you become incapacitated. Beyond wills and trusts, incapacity planning is one of the most important reasons for creating an estate plan. You can use a power of attorney to plan for how your assets will be managed if you are alive but no longer able to communicate or make decisions about what should be done with money and property.
You can also create a living will or advanced directive so you have autonomy over medical decisions even if you cannot communicate, and should create a power of attorney for healthcare so you decide who makes other medical choices for you if you can’t and if the choices aren’t addressed in your living will.
- Protecting your loved ones
One of the most important reasons to create wills and trusts is to protect the people that you love. You can try to create a plan to avoid probate so your loved ones don’t have to go to court after death. By distributing assets, you can ensure your family won’t fight over your property. You can also make sure that an inheritance isn’t a burden by structuring it carefully for effective management. Finally, by making medical decisions in advance, you can make sure your family doesn’t have to make a tough choice about whether extraordinary measures should be taken to keep you alive.
How a Smithtown Estate Planning Lawyer Can Help
A Smithtown estate planning lawyer at Mark S. Eghrari and Associates PLLC can provide you with help with all aspects of creating a comprehensive estate plan, from wills and trusts to more complex legal tools. Give us a call at (631) 265-0599 or contact us online to learn more about how an experienced lawyer can help you. You can also learn more estate planning basics by joining us for a free seminar.