Wills and Estates

Knowledgeable New York Attorneys Helping Protect Your Family and Assets

Life changes; so too should your Will. Whether you are young and newly married or recently retired, it generally makes sense to have an updated last will and testament in place for the protection of your loved ones and for your own peace of mind. Other documents, such as health care proxies and powers of attorney, may also be useful. It has been said that the greatest gift a parent can leave their children is a Living Will, whereby all of the parent’s end of life decisions have been made in advance, thereby relieving their children of the burden of making impossible choices under pressure. In New York, an after-life trust may be included in your Will for the distribution of bequests to minor beneficiaries. The experienced New York estate planning lawyers at The Nathanson Law Firm LLP can help you consider strategies to protect your assets, minimize the tax burden on your estate, and make sure that your wishes are communicated effectively. Furthermore, we can help executors and administrators with the task of probating a loved one’s estate. Our firm also assists people who need a small business lawyer or counsel regarding other legal matters.

The Importance of Wills and Other Estate Planning Tools

To understand the importance of having a will, it is sometimes helpful to know what happens if a person dies “intestate” (without a will) in the state of New York. Under state laws of intestate succession, several factors are taken into consideration, including whether the deceased person was married or had children. For example, if someone was unmarried but had children, the children would inherit all of the estate after the payment of debts and the costs of administration. This might not be the result that the person would have desired if they had lived with a loved one to whom they were not married for a substantial period of time.

As this example shows, the traditional intestacy laws were written in a different time and do not necessarily reflect the wishes of many people now. People who have children from multiple relationships, special needs children, or a spouse who may be deteriorating will find that a well-considered estate plan is a cost-effective way to assure that they provide for their loved ones and that their assets are not squandered on lengthy and contentious court battles. Our estate planning attorneys can help New York residents understand their full range of options and draft instruments tailored to their needs.

It is important to note that estate planning encompasses much more than drafting a will or creating a trust. While medical advances have made it possible to extend life even when a person has no reasonable hope of recovery, there are many people who would prefer not to be recipients of life support in these circumstances. Through a living will, these wishes may be communicated to health care providers, such as doctors and hospital personnel. Similarly, a health care proxy may be used to appoint a trusted relative or friend to make health care decisions (including end-of-life decisions) in the event that the person executing the documents becomes legally incompetent to make their own decisions due to an illness or disability.

The fact is that there are many types of legal documents that may be of great benefit in a particular situation, but there is no “one size fits all” estate plan, in contrast to what some online estate planning resources may suggest. Even more importantly, just as situations in your life may change (marriage, divorce, children, grandchildren, wealth), so too may the law, which is in a constant state of flux. Federal Estate Tax Laws are always being revisited depending on which political party controls the Presidency and Congress. New York State laws also differ from Federal laws. Yet you have to plan a document that may not take effect until the laws have changed and changed back, over and over again. This is a near impossible task, which is why we recommend that your will be constantly reviewed to determine whether updates are necessary. At The Nathanson Law Firm LLP, we ask many questions to our estate planning clients. Some of these questions may not seem relevant at first, and many will force you to envision uncomfortable scenarios, but they are important to gaining a thorough understanding of the bigger picture and all of the possible situations in which you may find yourself as life unfolds. Only with a precise inquiry into a client’s objectives can we draft documents that will express their wishes, address any distinctive concerns, and establish a plan for the maximum retention of the financial fruits of a lifetime of hard work and dedication.

Is your spouse a U.S. citizen? If not, that could drastically alter the value of retention of assets upon your death, well below your intentions. Only experienced and educated estate planning lawyers like The Nathanson Law Firm LLP can guide you in the proper direction on these important decisions.

Explore Your Options with an Estate Planning Lawyer in New York

Talking about issues such as wills and trusts may be emotionally difficult. However, it is likely worthwhile to avoid the alternative of having your loved ones face an uncertain future because of a lack of judicious planning. To set up an appointment with a New York estate planning attorney, call The Nathanson Law Firm LLP at 516-568-0000 or contact us online. Based in Lynbrook, NY, on Long Island, we also assist people who need a real estate lawyer, a landlord-tenant lawyer, or guidance in business law and debt collection matters throughout the region.