Estate planning allows your decisions to control your life and provides comfort and direction to your family through the basic tools of a Will, Power of Attorney and Living Will/Health Proxy. Administration of a loved one’s estate, whether they had a will or not, requires experienced guidance through the Surrogates Court requirements, collecting and administering the assets and managing family expectations.
A Last Will and Testament is a document that controls where your assets will pass after your death. An Executor is names to handle the administration of your estate. Their duties are to collect your assets, pay the bills and distribute things as your Will directs. A successor Executor should also be named. A Guardian over any minor children should also be named. An alternate should also be named. A Trustee should also be named to handle the property passing to minor children. It can be the same person as the Guardian or a different selection. The assets can be distributed to the children as they age with directions in your Will. You can also remember churches or charities in your Will and make specific gifts to individuals. Special provisions may be made in your Will for Special Needs Trusts for the placement and care of pets as well. You should review your Will and any Letter to the Executor on an annual basis.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney enables someone to handle financial matters during your lifetime. People usually name their spouse and an alternate, in case of an accident where both of you are injured and unable to act. The POA is only effective during your lifetime. Your Executor should handle your financial matters after your lifetime. Your agent has to accept the duties of being the agent and agree to following your instructions and, where there are no instructions, to act in your best interest. To revoke a Power of Attorney and name a new agent, a Revocation must be properly signed and served on the former agent notifying them that they no longer have the authority to act on your behalf. We can guide you through the legal steps necessary to prepare, execute and, when necessary, revoke Powers of Attorney.
Living Will and Health Care Proxy
A Living Will and Health Care Proxy are important documents regardless of your age. During times of medical emergencies, these documents serve you by designating who you want to make decisions for you and what treatment you desire or not. You may select a family member or trusted friend to speak for you when you cannot speak for yourself.