The holidays are over and 2022 has begun, are you making plans to begin the New Year? We know many New Yorkers are focusing on the resolutions they set and how they will reach them. Do your resolutions focus on work, health, family, or even all three?

Creating a New York estate plan, we believe, is one of the most important New Year’s Resolutions you can make this year. By having an estate plan in place, you can be protected both during life and at the time of your death. By working with your estate-planning attorney, you can create a plan that ensures your choices for your health care and finances are honored by your chosen decision maker. In addition, your estate-planning attorney will also show you how you can ensure that your family will be provided for when you are no longer here with them.

Do you have an estate plan in place, now? This is great news! With a plan in place, time is of the essence to ensure it reflects your wishes for yourself and your loved ones. Many changes can happen within your family, your business, and your finances in a year. It is important to make sure your estate plan remains effective in not only capturing the desired future for you and your loved ones, but also has the best tools in place to accomplish those goals.

How do you get started? We have six questions that we suggest you start with. Ask yourself and your New York estate-planning attorney these questions as you work on your New York estate plan in the new year.

1. My immediate family members have changed, should I update my estate plan? Absolutely! If there is a birth, death, divorce, or other life update, you should make it a priority to contact your attorney to determine if your estate plan needs any updates or significant changes.

2. Have any laws changed that could affect my estate plan. This is an important question for your attorney who is up to date on his latest information that could affect your legal planning. In addition, she can make recommendations about whether your current plan needs to be changed.

3. I do not have a New York estate plan, am I really unprotected? Yes! In the event of a crisis or death, there will be no guidance for your family, your bank, your friends, or the court system. Without an estate plan in place, the court in New York may be required to appoint and give legal authority to someone to act on your behalf. Do you want to choose who your estate representative will be or do you want to leave that up to NY’s intestacy law? You should choose this person carefully and not leave it to chance. The surrogate court case is settling an estate without a Will, can be time consuming, costly, and open to the public scrutiny and family dissension. This, and can be avoided by completing your estate planning and executing the important legal documents needed while you have the capacity to do so.

4. Okay, I have a New York estate plan, what does it really do? Your New York estate plan will use a variety of legal planning tools to address how your assets will be managed and distributed in the event of your death or incapacity, among other things. These legal tools include such safety net lifetime documents like a Power of Attorney and Health care Proxy and important documents such as a Last Will or a living trust which will give your heirs instructions on distributing your personal belongings and your assets.

5. When is the best time to get started with creating an estate plan or updating it? As soon as possible! If Covid has taught us anything, it is that our health and wellbeing is unpredictable. We need to act now to set the instructions out of what wishes are for our lifetime needs and when we pass. Estate and tax laws change, in order to maximize the potential benefits a New York estate plan has to offer, therefore, it is important to put the plan in place sooner rather than later.

6. What can I expect my New York estate-planning attorney to discuss with me? She will want to discuss with you your wishes about your own life needs and your health care, your wishes about your family and how you wish to provide for them. In addition, she will review your finances to assess the impact of the federal and NY estate tax laws, and your concerns about long-term care needs and the potential for catastrophic health care costs in the later years. These are the important issues of lifetime planning. She will share various tools, such as the durable power of attorney for your finances. She can advise you on who should be your decision maker, as well as back up decision maker, for times of health care needs or family crisis. She can also discuss with you the difference between a plan based on a Last Will which requires a court probate proceeding and an estate plan based on using probate avoiding techniques such as a revocable living trust.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. We want to help you achieve the New Year’s Resolution of having a New York estate plan that can meet your needs. Throughout New York City, clients turn to the experienced lawyers of the Grimaldi Yeung Law Group. We are a full service Elder Law firm, helping clients maximize their options in planning for the pre-and post-retirement years. Our peer-recognized attorneys provide the legal insight clients can depend on when considering their options for the future. We make sure our clients feel comfortable working with us to discuss their most cherished hopes and needs. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with our attorneys.

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