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For many, thinking about the future means planning a career, perhaps starting a family and enjoying life while not taking the time to consider what will happen if you become ill or disabled, or if you were to suddenly pass away. At O’Connell and Aronowitz, we provide individuals in Albany, Latham, Plattsburgh, Saratoga and across upstate New York with sophisticated estate planning, including the preparation of wills, trusts, and other essential services.
One common misconception of many individuals is that estate planning is only for the wealthy. It is, however, essential for everyone, regardless of financial status, in order to protect oneself and provide for loved ones. We will work closely with you in developing a comprehensive personalized plan to provide you with peace of mind.
Estate Planning Documents
The most basic estate planning document is a Last Will and Testament, commonly referred to as a will. This document specifies how your property and assets will be distributed at the end of your life, and who will receive them. A will also allows you to name a trusted person to act as your personal representative, or executor, who will be responsible for carrying out your instructions. Lastly, a will is the only means by which you can select guardians to care for your minor children.
Given the fact that a will only becomes effective after it has been probated, which can be a costly and time-consuming process, we encourage clients to establish a revocable living trust. A properly prepared trust will take title to your property while allowing you to continue managing your assets during your lifetime. A trust also allows you to name an individual to manage your affairs in the event of your incapacity as well as to settle your estate when you die. In addition, a trust is a private document (unlike a will) that does not get filed in probate court.
Our attorneys are also experienced in the creation of irrevocable trusts such as insurance trusts, credit shelter and bypass trusts, QTIP and QDOT trusts, Medicaid trusts, and charitable trusts. These estate planning tools are designed for a number of purposes including avoiding estate taxes, protecting assets from creditors, and qualifying for Medicaid.
Powers of Attorney
A comprehensive estate plan should also include a durable power of attorney. This document allows you to name someone to act on your behalf should you become incapacitated. This individual is given the legal authority to handle your financial affairs such as paying bills and managing property and investments. It is also essential to establish an advance directive for healthcare, or healthcare proxy, which names an individual to make decisions about the type of medical care you should receive if you are unable to speak for yourself.
A living will is another advance medical directive that establishes the type of treatment you want to receive if you become terminally ill or incapacitated and are not able to make or communicate decisions about end-of-life care.
Our estate planning attorneys are dedicated to ensuring the well being of our clients, protecting the wealth they have acquired over a lifetime, and ensuring their wishes are carried out in the event of death or incapacity.
We represent trusts, estates and the affected parties through the probate process. We also assist clients in planning for long-term care, both for themselves and their dependents, and we are well-versed in federal Medicare and Medicaid laws and regulations. We also routinely analyze the estate, gift and income tax consequences of estate plans to minimize tax costs and prepare estate income tax returns.
By not having a well thought-out estate plan, the courts will appoint someone to make decisions about your healthcare and the distribution of your assets in a way that may not agree with your wishes.
Our attorneys are active members of the Elder Law Section of the New York State Bar Association, the Trusts, Estates and Elder Law section of the New York State Bar Association, and the Trusts, Estates and Taxation section of the Albany County Bar Association.