and Your Family
Queens Estate Planning
An estate plan is a way to protect yourself, your assets, and your loved ones. Estate planning is not only about preparing for your death. It is also about protecting your assets and your yourself during your lifetime. Without a plan in place, decisions related to who will get your property, who will care for your minor children, and who will care for your finances and make decisions about your healthcare if you are unable to, will be made by the New York State. This is not a result that you likely to want. For example, without a will, your property may not end up the hands of people who are important to you, but in the hands of your legal heirs who may not be close to you. The Queens estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experienced helping families create customized estate plans that meet their specific needs and unique family dynamics.Components of an estate plan
The basic components of an estate plan include a will, trust, durable power of attorney, and advance health care directive.
Will. A will is a legally enforceable document in which you provide instructions for how you want your assets distributed to your loved ones upon your death. With the help of an experienced Queens estate planning attorney, you can customize the provisions of your will to meet your needs. With a will you also appoint the person who will serve as your executor. The job of an executor is to settle your affairs and distribute your assets based on the terms of your will. If you have minor children at the time of your death, a will allows you to designate someone to serve as their guardian. In order for a will to be valid, it must be written and executed according to the rules found in New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law.
Upon your death, your executor will present your will to the New York Surrogate’s Court for probate. Probate administration is the process following your death that is managed by your executor and overseen by the Surrogate’s Court. During probate administration your debts are paid and your assets are distributed to the beneficiaries listed in your will. While a will is an important estate planning document, it cannot provide for management of your assets if you become incapacitated.
Trust. A trust is a legal arrangement involving a grantor, trustee, and a beneficiary. The grantor is the person who creates the trust, determines its terms, and funds it by transferring his (or her) assets to it. The beneficiary or beneficiaries receives the income or principal from the trust according to the terms of the trust agreement. The trustee is the person who is responsible for managing the assets of the trust for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
There are several different types of trusts that serve different objectives. A revocable living trust is often used as part of an estate plan. When you create a revocable trust, you are the grantor, you can also be a beneficiary along with family members, and you can serve as trustee. A revocable trust allows the grantor to transfer his assets to the trust and still maintain lifetime management and use of those assets. By naming a successor trustee, a revocable trust also allows you to continue to benefit from the trust in the event you become incapacitated, as well as providing for your loved ones after your death.
Durable power of attorney for finances. A power of attorney is a legal document in which you as the principal name another person, known as the agent, to act on your behalf with respect to your finances. While a traditional power of attorney terminates in the event the principal becomes incapacitated, if the power of attorney is durable, it will continue during incapacity to provide a financial management safety net so that your finances do not fall into disarray. However, a durable power of attorney terminates upon your death.
Advance healthcare directive. An advance healthcare directive is a set of instructions related to your healthcare that are to be followed in the event you are unable to make decisions for yourself. An advance healthcare directive typically includes a healthcare proxy and living will.
As an experienced estate planning attorney in Queens will explain, a healthcare proxy authorizes someone to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so yourself. In other words, it is a durable power of attorney for health care. You are the principal and the person to whom you give authority is your healthcare agent.
The other document that is commonly part of a healthcare directive is a living will. A living will is a document in which you express your wishes regarding the use of life-sustaining measures in the event of a serious illness injury from which you are not likely to recover.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
In addition to having all of the appropriate documents in your estate plan, it is also important to review them periodically to ensure they are up-to-date. For example, if you get married, divorced, have children, or grandchildren, you may need to change the beneficiaries in your will and trust, you may need to change the name of your executor, and you may need to change to whom you give your power of attorney. To ensure that all documents in your estate plan are properly drafted, properly executed, and are up-to-date, contact an experienced estate planning attorney serving Queens. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience creating comprehensive estate plans for clients that include wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. We are here to help. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Westchester County, Bronx, and Brooklyn.