New Hyde Park Estate Planning Blog

3 ways to avoid the probate process

Probate can be a long process, so it's best if you're able to avoid it. Probate can take months or years to be resolved, and it can cost thousands of dollars. The longer it takes, the more it will cost overall.

When someone leaves behind assets for heirs, that individual likely wants them to receive as many of those assets as possible. A long probate process puts those assets at risk. That's why it's important to plan now to avoid probate at all costs.

Why should you work with an elder law attorney?

As you age, you may find you have specific legal needs. In those cases, it may be in your best interests to work with an elder law attorney.

An elder law attorney is experienced in the needs that elderly people and their advocates may have. They are familiar with end-of-life planning as well as estate planning and Social Security or Medicaid issues. Any issues that the elderly may find themselves having could be approached by an elder law attorney.

Do I make too much income to qualify for Medicaid?

Older adults in New York may be concerned about paying for rising medical costs. As people age, they naturally require more medical care and treatments. They may be on daily medications necessary to maintain their health. All of this can get quite costly. Luckily, through the federal and state governments, adults over the age of 65 can qualify for help. The two main options for healthcare coverage are Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is specifically for older adults. Medicaid is based on income. They are not the same program. Qualifying for Medicare is based on age and is paid for through taxes when a person works. Medicaid is a social program available to help those who have low incomes.

Creating an estate plan is a must for women of all ages

Everyone gets older, and no matter how hard you try, there will come a day when you need to plan for your estate and end of life wishes. It can be hard to approach this topic, but it's important to do so. Women who want to plan their estates should consider approaching it slightly differently. Women are not the same as men physically and have some different factors to consider in their estates. For instance, women tend to outlive men, so it's important to plan for additional years of life that men may not account for in their plans.

Women, on average, live 4.9 years longer than men. With a longer life, you need to consider ways to make your assets last longer. Women may also have challenges if they have short work histories; they may not have as much saved as male counterparts and need to account for the lower savings they'll have in retirement. Organizing an estate plan can make it easier to see how much money a woman has and how to stretch those assets to last a lifetime and beyond.

When is it a good idea to challenge a will?

When your loved one passed away, you began to gather all the documents you knew you needed from his home. There, you found the documents in a new location; it wasn't where you'd left them when you were appointed to take care of the estate by your family member. You were surprised when you found that many of the documents were missing or not written the way you remembered.

Now, you're worried, because someone else is named as the executor of the estate. How could this happen? Your loved one wanted you to take care of his wishes and told you so directly. Your copies of the documents even say so, but changes have been made.

Wills versus revocable trusts: The benefits of a living trust

A revocable living trust is not the same as a will, and it has some special benefits. To start with, you need to understand the differences. A revocable living trust is able to be altered at any time if you change your mind, similarly to how a will works. However, a revocable living trust spares your family the hassle of probate, which is something necessary when a will is used. Probate is a court-supervised process that is always required when someone dies with or without a will. Probate is the process by which the will is read and the estate passed to the heirs.

A revocable living trust doesn't require probate, because it's a contract between yourself and the trust entity. You, the grantor, serve as the trustee in life, and then, when you pass away, a successor takes over your position to help settle the trust and to distribute assets to your heirs.

Are there different kinds of guardians?

You've been asked to be a guardian, but do you know what it really entails? Not all guardians are the same. Before you decide if you will or will not accept the request, take the time to better educate yourself about what a guardian is and does.

There are several kinds of guardians a person could be. For example, you can be a guardian of a person. You would then be able to make decisions about your ward's health care, welfare and education.

This is what happens if there is no will when a loved one dies

If a loved one passes away without a will, then it's important to understand how his or her estate is passed down in accordance with New York's laws. When there is no will, you and your family may be called "distributees" instead of heirs. This term refers to anyone who is entitled to a share of the decedent's estate. If the decedent has direct family, then the law dictates who the property goes to in this order.

First, if he or she has a husband or wife but no children, then the husband or wife inherits everything from the estate. If he or she has a husband or wife and children, then the spouse inherits the first $50,000 and half of the remaining balance. The children obtain the remainder. In the case that the child has died prior to the decedent but has a child of his or her own, the grandchild may take the child's place for inheritance purposes.

How to plan for an adult sibling with a disability

In many families with an adult child with a disability requiring daily care, there is an understanding, either implicit or explicit, between the parents and other adult children that at least one of the other adult children will care for their sibling after the parents die.

Is such an understanding good enough on its own? The answer is: Probably not. For one thing, finances could be an issue, with the new caretakers scrambling at the last minute to figure out how to afford their responsibilities.

Pros and Cons of Conservatorship in New York

Conservatorship occurs when an adult is no longer capable of taking care of himself or herself. By New York law, one person is in charge of the overall well-being of this adult and makes all relevant decisions regarding health care and paying bills.

People can make the process of acquiring conservatorship over another person much simpler when hiring an informed attorney. However, there are several other details to learn about the process before pursuing it. Similar to any other course of legal action, there are pros and cons to seeking conservatorship.

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