Long Island Estate Planning Lawyers Helping Families Prepare for the Future
Also Serving: New York City
Mourning the death of a loved one can be a time filled with extreme emotions: from terrible grief to strained family relationships over the distribution of the deceased person’s estate. At this time, a lack of estate planning can be devastating for the surviving members of the family. At Davidov Law Group, our founding partners, a husband-wife team, have personally experienced the catastrophic effects of having a family member die without an estate plan. This is why they have devoted their entire practice to helping other families avoid such a disaster.
While we admit that planning for your own death may not be most people’s first choice in how to spend their time, estate planning is a critical process that more Americans should think about. Even if you are not ultra-wealthy, you have worked hard for your possessions. Your children, spouse, and grandchildren deserve the best protection when they move forward after your death. The best way to guarantee that they are provided for is by establishing an estate plan right away.
When determining such vital matters as establishing inheritance, guardianship for minor children, a healthcare proxy, and more, you need an experienced New York estate planning attorney who can help you make the right decisions for your family. The compassionate legal team at Davidov Law Group will listen carefully to your goals and help you create the best estate plan for your unique situation.
What are the Risks of Lacking Estate Planning?
Dying without a will is known as dying intestate and can lead to severe issues for surviving family members. In the State of New York, individuals who do not have an estate plan may have their possessions go through probate court. In this process, a judge decides who inherits what assets according to state law.
The deceased person’s assets are usually distributed to close family members, but your loved ones will have no control over who gets what. It is easy to see why this can lead to devastating results. Many families have been torn apart because of a dispute regarding assets belonging to a person who died intestate.
Furthermore, stepchildren, friends of the decedent, charities, and other possible beneficiaries of the person who died will receive nothing. Business owners and other individuals who own a great deal of wealth may also expose their assets to co-owners debts. And if your heir is a minor, there will be no way to delay their inheritance until they are older.
Some other problems with lacking an estate plan are:
- You will have no control over who distributes your estate, as the court will determine this.
- The court will appoint a guardian for your children rather than you picking who will raise them.
- A court-appointed guardian will make your financial and medical decisions.
- You could accidentally dis-inherit your loved ones.
- Your family members will have to go through the expensive and time-consuming probate process, also known as the surrogate’s court.
- Family relationships could become strained or even destroyed because of disputes.
- Your tax burden could be increased if you don’t include essential asset protection tools like trusts.
Please don’t leave your loved ones’ futures in such an uncertain condition. Take the simple step today of meeting with an estate planning lawyer to discuss preparing the estate planning documents you need. Contact us at (516) 253-1366 right away to schedule your consultation!
What are Some Basic Aspects of an Estate Plan?
One of the beautiful things about estate planning and elder law is the amazing flexibility you have when crafting an estate plan. Every person’s situation and family is different, and there are many tools to help give your surviving loved ones the life you imagined.
Some common estate planning documents that we use for many of our clients include:
- Last will and testament – A will is typically the foundation of your estate plan and is especially important if you have minor children. In your will, you can name beneficiaries and designate a guardian for any surviving minor children and pets.
- Living will – A living will offer instructions for what surviving family members should do if you become incapacitated. It names a trustee who will act on your behalf if you cannot make healthcare or financial decisions.
- Power of attorney – The power of attorney document gives legal authority to an agent you name who can act on your behalf. Their duties include making decisions regarding many aspects of life, such as property, business decisions, finances, investments, or medical care.
- Health care proxy – Unlike a power of attorney, a health care proxy may only make decisions regarding your medical care. This is sometimes known as an advanced directive and can include instructions for your end-of-life care.
Why is a Will so Important?
Most people understand that a will is an integral part of an estate plan, but they need to fully understand what wills are used for and why they are so important.
The Will Names Your Beneficiaries
Naming the beneficiaries of your inheritance is a commonly understood aspect of creating a will. While wills don’t offer as much flexibility as trusts regarding when and how assets are to be distributed, they play an essential role in avoiding disputes over your possessions. Many New York estates still need to go through probate, even with a will. But this process is greatly simplified with a will in place.
The Will Designates a Guardian for Minor Children
Having a will in place is a must if you have minor children because it indicates who will become their guardian if both parents die. Without a will, the state will choose the guardian. While this is usually a close family member, it might not be someone you would have chosen. With a will, you have control over who will raise your children.
The Will Indicates a Trustee to Distribute the Inheritance
The person chosen to administer your estate is a critical matter. If the court has to assign someone, they will usually pick a close family member. But if you have an estate plan in place, you can choose a person you trust to maintain a high level of loyalty when distributing your assets following your death.
What is a Trust?
Trusts differ from wills, even though some of their functions are similar. With a trust, your assets are held in such a way that they are protected from creditors while you are alive and after your death. Trusts also help to minimize taxes due on your wealth.
One of the most important advantages of having a trust in your estate plan is that you have a great deal of control over who inherits your wealth and how it is distributed. As grantor or creator of the trust, you can indicate virtually anyone you like as a beneficiary. You may also establish terms restricting when and how the funds are dispensed. The function of the trust will depend on what kind of trust you choose.
We have helped clients create a wide variety of trusts, including:
- Living trusts – In a living trust, the grantor may also be a beneficiary. This means your assets will be protected, but you may still be able to access your wealth.
- Asset protection trusts – An asset protection trust is a type of living trust known as an irrevocable trust. These trusts give a great deal of protection against creditors, lawsuits, and judgments against the owner. However, while the grantor retains control over their assets, they may not be able to access the trust funds at all times.
- Charitable remainder trusts – With charitable remainder trusts, the grantor may select a favorite charity as a beneficiary of the trust’s
- Special needs trusts – Special needs trusts are intended for individuals who wish to care for a loved one with special needs after the trust creator has passed away or become incapacitated.
What Do Estate Planning Lawyers Do?
Estate planning lawyers are your ally in securing your legacy in the way that best matches your goals and your family’s needs. Some clients come to us and are not sure what their goals are. We will help you determine what you want for your loved ones should you pass away or become incapacitated, then find the estate planning documents that work best for your situation.
Estate planning lawyers simplify your life and help you prepare for the future in many ways, including:
- Creating a will, trust, or both that matches your goals and family’s needs
- Minimizing your tax burden through the use of gifts, ownership strategies, trusts, and more
- Helping you determine who to assign as guardian for your minor children, health care proxy, and power of attorney as necessary
- Updating your estate plans as your situation changes, such as in a divorce or the birth of a child
- Helping your surviving family members avoid probate, giving them the protection and privacy they deserve
Contact our talented legal team immediately for help understanding the parts of an effective estate plan and to find out how we can help you with the estate planning process.
Should You Hire Our Estate Planning Attorneys?
Thinking about one’s own death is never a cheerful prospect. But a small amount of effort and planning today can pay huge dividends for your family when you die. You can minimize the estate taxes due, assign beneficiaries and indicate how they will receive their inheritance, protect your assets from creditors, and give instructions on handling your affairs should you become incapacitated.
Don’t leave these critical matters up to chance. Give your loved ones the best chance for a bright future and protect the wealth you have worked so hard to create. Contact Davidov Law Group for lawyers who understand the estate planning process and will stand by your side while creating the perfect estate plan for you.
Our founding attorneys are a husband-wife team who have personally experienced the devastation that comes when a family member dies without the right estate plan. We are honored to help our clients avoid the same catastrophe and would love to speak with you in an estate planning consultation. Please reach out to us today to schedule an appointment by calling (516) 253-1366.