Estate Planning Basics: What You Should Know

Planning for what will happen to your assets and property upon your passing can be daunting. Many people do not want to think about or plan for their demise. However, planning in advance is extremely important to ensure that your wishes for what you leave behind are fulfilled. There are many aspects of estate planning that must be considered and various legal documents that must be completed properly in order for your wishes to be carried out. Our attorneys have the experience and are committed to providing attentive, personalized service to guide you in this sensitive area of the law.

The Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament (“Will”) is a legal document that sets forth your wishes and provides direction for the administration of your estate upon your passing. Some things to consider before drafting your Will include: What specific assets do you want to leave to family and/or friends? How do you want your assets distributed in the event of a family disaster? Who do you want to appoint as executor? Who do want to appoint as trustee of any trust created? Who do you want to appoint as guardian for any minor child/children? Is there a child/children you intend to specifically omit? There are various considerations when drafting and/or updating your Will. Most significantly is ensuring that your Will is drafted properly and legally to ensure that it will be enforced by the Court. For this reason, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you in drafting your Will.


Trusts are helpful in distributing assets before and/or after death. A trust transfers property from the creator of the trust, called the grantor or settlor, to one or more people known as trustees. The trustees are granted the legal title to the property with the duty to carry out the directives imposed by the creator of the trust. The Trustee holds the property for the beneficiary, who will then ultimately receive the property within the trust, how and when the creator directs.

There are various different types of trusts. Therefore, some things to think about before forming a trust are: What is your purpose for creating the trust?” Who will you appoint as trustee(s) of the trust? Who will be the beneficiary(ies) of the trust? How do you want the trust assets handled during your life and upon your death? Are there any special considerations or concerns?

Living Will, Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney

Appointing an agent generally means that you select an individual who has the authority to make financial and/or medical decisions on your behalf or to act on your behalf in the event that you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these decisions yourself.

1. Health Care Proxy. This is a legal document that appoints another person to make medical decisions in the event that you, the patient, are unable to do so.
2. Living Will. This legal instrument outlines your wishes in terms of life support and organ donations if you become unable to communicate or make decisions for yourself.
3. Power of Attorney. This is a legal document that appoints an agent to handle various personal matters on your behalf in the event that you are unable to do so personally. The authority granted to your agent under your Power of Attorney terminates upon your death.

Each of the documents outlined above direct what will happen to you and your property upon your death or in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself. It is crucial that you consult with an experienced New York estate planning lawyer who can help you draft these documents properly. For years, our lawyers have assisted clients in creating wills, trusts and accompanying estate planning documents, providing personalized and individualized service. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call one of our attorneys at (914) 631-6666.

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