New Hyde Park Estate Planning Blog

The holidays are a good time to talk about estate plans

As people age, it's important that they begin to talk about estate planning. It can be a difficult topic to bring up, and it may be uncomfortable. Despite that, it's a good idea to talk about estate planning, because without a good plan, the estate could be heavily taxed, go into probate or face other issues following your death or the death of someone who is close to you.

When an estate plan is in place, there can be a smooth transition of the estate to the beneficiaries following an individual's death. When there isn't, the potential beneficiaries have to go to court to work out the fine details of the estate, what taxes are owed and what debts need to be paid. Estate planning isn't always a pleasant topic, but to avoid going to probate, talking about it is worth your time.

An elder law power of attorney helps protect your assets

As someone who is getting older, you've probably started to think about your estate plan. One thing that's important to have is an elder law power of attorney (POA). An elder law power of attorney isn't quite the same as a typical POA.

Normally, a POA gives appointed agents the right to make legal, financial and business decisions for you if you are unable to do so due to incapacity. Having a POA saves you money and time, since the judge doesn't have to hold a proceeding to appoint a guardian.

Understanding the difference between a will and a trust

There is a lot you and other New York residents need to think about when doing your estate planning. Which relatives do you want to leave your favorite heirlooms to? How should you divide your home and vehicles amongst your loved ones? Can you specify how you want your grandchildren to spend their inheritance? What if you become incapacitated before you die?

These questions can be addressed when you create a will or a trust. Can you make both a will and a trust when you are planning your estate? Of course, but it helps to understand the differences between the two.

How do you value an estate?

Planning for death is always a touchy topic, but it's best not to avoid it. Before you can finalize your estate plan, there are many things that have to happen. Valuing your assets is one of those things.

Estate valuation is an important process. This valuation calculates the value of the things you own for the purposes of federal estate taxes. The Internal Revenue Code allows for two values to be submitted. One is the alternative valuation date that takes place at one point and the date of death, which is the valuation at the date of the decedent's death.

Choosing the right nursing home makes a difference for elders

Choosing the right nursing home can be the difference between your loved one receiving good care or finding that he or she has been injured at a nursing home. It's hard to know which facility to choose; many are expensive, and some may seem better than others on the surface with no particular benefit over others. How can you make this important decision easier?

One of the things you should do is take a tour of any nursing home you're considering for a loved one. Plan to advocate for your loved one; he or she may not be in a position to make the choice on his or her own, so it's up to you to make a decision that you know is in his or her best interests.

Choosing a health care proxy: An important part of a living will

A health care proxy is also known as your health care power of attorney. This individual is someone who can make decisions your behalf if you're unable to do so yourself. It's vital to be certain the person you choose for your proxy understands your health conditions, medical history and symptoms.

The individual you make your power of attorney should be attentive to details and understand your morals and how you'd like to be treated. The individual must have good communication skills to work with medical teams and doctors to dictate the treatment you'd like. Additionally, he or she must take these duties seriously.

Must I give up my house to qualify for Medicaid?

There is no doubt that long-term medical care has become expensive. Even well-off people are not always able to pay for, say, 15 years' worth of nursing homes or in-home caregivers. Of course, government programs such as Medicaid can step in to help pay for most, if not all, expenses. However, those who apply for Medicaid must meet certain eligibility requirements, some of which are financial. One common concern is whether you will have to give up your home in order to qualify.

The good news is that in many cases, you do not have to give up your house.

Contesting a will: Know when to speak up

There are times when you may wish to contest a will. For instance, if you believe your siblings had undue influence on your mom or dad before his or her death, you may wish to contest the changes that were made to the will before your mother or father's passing.

The elderly are sometimes easily influenced, especially if they have disorders such as Alzheimer's disease or dementia. It could be easy for someone to put pressure on the individual to sign a document that he or she does not understand or would not otherwise sign.

Co-operatives and condominiums in estate plans: Know the facts

As someone who may become a beneficiary, it's important that you understand the basics of receiving an inheritance. The last thing any family should have to go through is a feud to determine who receives which assets from a loved one's estate.

If you may receive a condo or co-operative, it's a good idea to know how those assets have to be handled. Condos are real estate, so if your loved one doesn't transfer the real estate out of his or her name, then an executor has to be appointed to determine the transfer of property. Co-ops, on the other hand, allow the transfer of the property to spouses, but other family members or children might not be allowed to inherit the property without the co-op board approving of the inheritance.

Estate planning should be continuous for the wealthy

When you are wealthy, it's vital that you plan for your death. Your estate is valuable, and you want to make sure as much of that estate as possible goes to the people or causes you want to see benefit from your hard work. Regardless of your wealth, everyone should have an estate plan, but as someone who has much to lose, it's extremely important to plan early.

Estate plans, once developed, need to be updated regularly. States, along with the government, change laws surrounding estate plans often. That could mean you'll end up paying fewer or more taxes than expected or that you need to change the wording in your estate to guarantee the avoidance of probate.

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