Articles Tagged with albany estate planning

For many people, pets are more than just entertainment. They can easily become part of your family, making memories more special and providing endless enjoyment for their human companions. Given the important role pets play in our lives, it is important to consider them when engaging in estate planning. This is especially true when an individual has a less traditional pet or a pet with special needs that may require extensive care were the pet’s human companion to pass. There are several ways to ensure that your pet or pets are taken care of should something happen to you.

Pet Provisions

While we may view pets as being a member of the family, the law sees them as property. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you include specific provisions in your Will that name the person or persons that will be responsible for caring for your pet. You will also have the opportunity to set aside funds for pet care in your Will. It is important to be specific about whom should inherit your pet as well as what assets you ill bequeath them, if any. It is also a good idea to discuss pet care with the person you have in mind prior to naming them in your Will to determine whether or not they are in a position to adequately care for your pet.

For the most part, most of your comprehensive estate planning is aimed at making sure other people are taken care of after your death. However, providing for others is not the only goal of estate planning in today’s world. As we begin to live longer lives, we must also take our own potential needs into consideration when designing an estate plan. Recently, Forbes ran an article that pointed out many people make a huge mistake when engaging in estate planning: they forget to plan for their own well-being. In other words, an important part of your estate plan is making sure you put mechanisms in place to address scenarios where you may become seriously ill or disabled, or for circumstances where you may require long-term care. The following important documents should be part of everyone’s estate plan.

Advanced Health Care Directive

An advanced health care directive allows you to nominate an individual that can make decisions about your healthcare should you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make such decisions on your own. The amount of leeway given to this nominee depends on how you structure the directive, which means that you can make it as narrow or as broad as you would like. These work in tandem with living wills, which can be used to explain the type of medical treatment you do and do not want to receive in certain circumstances. Together, these forms can help spare family members and other loved ones from making difficult decisions that may be contrary to your wishes because they enable you to clearly convey your views on medical care.

For a long time, Medicaid has had the reputation of being a program that provides insurance and other benefits to poorer individuals throughout the United States. In some ways, recent contentious debates have deepened that image. However, a recent article from Business Insider points out that this is simply not true. In fact, Medicaid often plays a crucial role in estate planning for those in nursing homes or in need of various other forms of long-term care.

Medicaid and Long-Term Care

The article notes that the average price of long-term care options for senior citizens have risen approximately 19 percent since 2011. That is far greater than the amount of social security or pension increases that accompany the increase in these costs. Given that people are living longer lives and that the cost of long-term care is constantly on the rise, this should not be surprising. According to the article, about 28 percent of Medicaid funds are used to finance long-term care costs.

Whether you are choosing an executor for your Last Will and Testament or a trustee for a trust you have established, it is clearly important to make the right decision. You want to choose someone trustworthy, responsible, and capable of carrying out the responsibilities being entrusted to them. That is often easier said than done, but the following tips adapted from the American Association of Retired Persons might be able to provide some guidance.

You Do Not Need an Expert

We all have a natural desire to want to work with the best when it comes to important matters. While experience in trusts and estates is beneficial, it is not required to properly and responsibly execute the duties associated with being an executor or trustee. Common sense can provide a solid foundation to perform these duties, and you may prefer a more intimate relationship with the person you are naming than you might get with a professional. In some situations, it may be best to choose a corporate trustee from an institution like a bank. However, many individuals can avoid doing this by selecting a reasonable person – which will also help you avoid the professional fee that may be associated with these services.

Among the many new trends emerging in a variety of places around the world is the idea of micro-living. The idea behind micro-living is to minimize the space you live in and consequently minimize associated costs, and potentially your impact on the environment. However, it is the reduction in cost that is most appealing to many people. Retirees are no exception to this, and a recent article from CNBC indicates that micro-living is becoming increasingly popular among elderly individuals looking to remain independent while minimizing their responsibilities and maximizing their savings potential.

Benefits of Micro-Living

Affectionately referred to in the article as “granny pods,” micro homes for senior citizens are typically several hundred square feet. This makes them small enough to fit in the backyards of most homes. These “granny pods” have all of the comforts of a normal home, just on a smaller scale. They allow senior citizens to maintain a sense of independence without having to actually move in with family or friends. This can be a welcome relief for both elderly individuals as well as their families that may not necessarily be looking to live together full-time. These micro homes typically have a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and potentially several other rooms depending on the size and experience you are looking for. They can be built to minimize obstacles that could be hazardous to older individuals, such as being built with flat floors to minimize the potential to trip or with modified showers to enable safer hygiene.

Nobody likes thinking about serious illness, especially a serious illness that could lead to death. Unfortunately, such illnesses can cause massive financial difficulties for friends and loved ones which can in turn significantly deplete the assets you had been planning to leave to your heirs. The moral of the story is that, no matter your age, it is never too early to start planning for the potential need for end-of-life care. The following tips are adapted from a recent article on this topic found in USA Today, and they may provide you with some important concepts to consider when thinking about healthcare issues.

Be Explicit About Your Wishes

Telling people in passing how you hope to be cared for in case of serious illness is important, but it isn’t necessarily always enough. It is important to write down your wishes and be explicit about how you wish your health care to be handled. You should also work with your estate planning attorney to create documents such as health care proxy nominations and/or a living will that express your healthcare wishes in detail.

While comprehensive estate planning can certainly be a difficult process, there are some things that remain rather constant. Most parents will choose to leave the bulk of their estate to their surviving spouse and/or their children, with the surviving spouse typically leaving the remainder of the estate to children. However, it is not uncommon for individuals thinking about retirement and other aspects of estate planning to not have children and/or not be married. When those situations arise, many of those individuals find it challenging to determine how they would like to distribute their estate and to decide whom they should nominate to make important decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the myriad options available to you, and a recent article from CNBC can help you start exploring your options.

Shaping Your Will

According to the article, a 2016 survey indicated that 64 percent of Americans do not have a Will in place. While the survey did not focus on childless adults, it is safe to say that many of those individuals do not have a Will in place, either. When you die without leaving a Will, your state has a statute that determines to whom your estate will be distributed.

Typically, many people tend to think an estate plan only includes your Will. In today’s day and age, however, most people have a much more diversified estate plan than they realize. Your estate plan is far more than just your Will and includes things like trusts, investments, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. One of the challenges of comprehensive estate planning can be understanding how these assets work and to whom they should go to. Recently, Forbes explored the way several assets within a typical estate plan usually work and understanding this could be an important part of your estate planning decisions.

Wills and Trusts

Those selected to benefit from assets distributed through a Will may have to wait a little longer than if you were to use a trust or other vehicle to distribute such assets. Wills are required to go through the probate process to prove that they are valid and to make sure they comply with the law. Typically, assets within a Will cannot be touched until the probate process is complete. While the probate process in New York is easier than elsewhere, it can still be time-consuming especially for an individual that may need immediate access to the assets in your Will.

Most individuals recognize the importance of comprehensive estate planning, although they may still choose to avoid it. One important part of your estate plan is your power of attorney (“POA”). Basically, a POA is a document that nominates an individual to make legal decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself. You can choose the extent of the decision-making power you vest in the individual you have chosen by working together with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine how to best represent your goals. However, it is important to be aware of some of the pitfalls that could weaken your POA. According to a recent article from Forbes, the following tips may help you do just that.

Use an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Too many people decide to cut corners by using any number of online forms and legal information available for download. However, these forms are not tailored to a client’s individual needs, nor do they help you understand important aspects about making sure your POA and other estate planning documents meet the needs you have expressed. Designing your POA and other estate planning documents with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you make sure that your estate plan complies with the law. This can save you and your loved ones time, money, and stress down the line. With something as important as estate planning, you want to be sure that you

Once an individual decides to engage in comprehensive estate planning, several concerns may arise. One of those concerns often involves leaving a large sum of money to an heir that may be facing financial difficulty or may not yet have the ability to budget in a responsible manner. In such cases, individuals likely still want to make sure that the heir in question is financially provided for, but may have serious concerns over whether or not the heir is able to utilize an inheritance in a reasonable manner. In such cases, CNBC notes that increasingly popular IRA trusts might be the solution to helping you make sure that an heir’s inheritance accomplishes the goal you want it to meet.

Basics of an IRA Trust

An IRA, or individual retirement account, typically comes in one of two forms: a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. There are different tax structures in place for both types of accounts, but regardless of the type you choose these retirement accounts can often grow to include sizeable amounts of money over time. As these accounts grow, it is increasingly important for you to ensure that your comprehensive estate planning strategy makes the best use of them.

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