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Home Practice Areas Estate Planning Introduction to Estate Planning
Friday 16th of November 2018
Introduction to Estate Planning PDF Print E-mail

Two of the most important aspects of estate planning are: (1) ensuring your last wishes are carried out exactly as you desire, and (2) developing estate tax minimization strategies. Many people assume that if they don't have many assets they don't have to worry about estate taxation, but the truth is that almost everyone can benefit from a well-constructed estate plan.

For example, many clients desire to have a will drawn up by their attorney only to learn upon visiting an attorney that there are many aspects of their estate that require more attention. Life insurance, residences, investment property, family businesses and many other assets are given a thorough review in the estate planning process to ensure that you are holding your assets in the best possible way to minimize estate taxation.

The following is a brief description of the basic documents used to start creating your estate plan.

Basic documents


The basic estate planning documents in New York State are the Last Will and Testament, the Living Will, the Health Care Proxy and various Powers of Attorney. The following is a brief description of each document. Further questions about how each document would relate to or function in your situation should be directed to your attorney.

Last Will and Testament. The Last Will and Testament establishes how you (called the testator testatrix) would like to distribute their assets upon your death.

Living Will. The Living Will describes which medical treatments or procedures you do or do not want to be performed in the event of your inability to decide. A common example would be whether you desire to have life-sustaining treatment. The Living Will becomes effective upon incapacitation or upon achieving a level of decline set forth in the Living Will.

Health Care Proxy.
This document places an agent or proxy in charge of making health care decisions for you in accordance with your wishes as set out in the document. Many hospitals will not admit patients until a healthcare proxy has been submitted. The Proxy may include the principal's wishes or instructions about health care decisions, and limitations upon the agent's authority. The Health Care Proxy is effective upon the incapacity of the principal to make health care choices.

Power of Attorney.
The Power of Attorney appoints an agent called an"Attorney-in-Fact," to manage your financial and business matters. The Power of Attorney is effective upon signing and notarization.

 
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