Estate Planning / Elder Law / Asset Protection

Our Work as Estate Planning Lawyers in Clifton Park and the Surrounding Albany Area:

Estate planning is for everyone. Have our Clifton Park, NY lawyers work with you to protect your assets and plan for a secure future. It may appear that estate planning is quite complex, but our Clifton Park, NY law firm offers you this breakdown of each of the documents involved in the process. Every client’s situation is different, but we can recommend how to proceed given your circumstances. Even if you already have a will, we can examine it and update it for you, if necessary. Please review the following discussion of the various documents as it will provide you with details on each document and its place in the estate plan. Do you have questions? Please call us at 518-371-5977 or contact us now.

Estate planning is necessary at all stages of adult life: whether single or married, young or old.  When estate planning involves seniors it is often referred to as “Elder Law” and usually includes the additional component of long term care planning. Estate planning involves helping our client plan for the disposition of assets upon death, management of assets during his/her lifetime, protecting assets for future transfer to the intended beneficiaries (“Asset Protection“), and establishment of a structure for decision-making in the event of incompetence or incapacity.

The documents most commonly associated with estate planning are the last will and testament, revocable and irrevocable trusts, power of attorney, health care proxy and living will.

  • Last Will and Testament
    The last will and testament is the most basic and typically most important estate planning document for the client.  Without a will, a New York State resident’s assets will pass to beneficiaries in accordance with rules established by statute. Creating a will which has been properly executed allows the client to indicate how he/she wants his/her assets to pass upon death and to name an executor and a guardian for minor children.
  • Trusts
    • Revocable Trusts
      A revocable trust provides for the management of assets that have been re-titled into the trust during the lifetime of the client and for distribution of the trust assets upon his/her death.  The trust is an agreement between the client and the individual who has been named as trustee. Some of the advantages of a trust include avoiding probate, allowing for efficient and continuous management of assets, particularly in the event of future incapacity and/or incompetence of the client, and reduction of estate expenses associated with probate. Use of a trust for transfer of assets is particularly appropriate when there is the likelihood that the client’s will may be contested, when the client’s legal distributees may be difficult to identify and/or locate, when it is necessary or desirable that assets be available to beneficiaries immediately upon the death of the client, when the client wishes to maintain privacy with respect to the ultimate distribution of his/her assets, and when the client owns property that is out of state which would otherwise require ancillary probate in the other state.
    • Irrevocable Trusts
      An irrevocable trust is frequently used for the purpose of removing assets from the client’s  estate.  Commonly, the desire to do so may stem from the need to manage, reduce or eliminate the tax liability of the estate or in order to preserve assets in the event of the need to qualify for Medicaid benefits.  In order to obtain the advantages of an irrevocable trust the client must give up ownership of the assets.  However, often the requirement of relinquishing control over the assets involved in an irrevocable trust is unacceptable to the client and a bar to the use of this estate planning tool.  Care should be taken by the client to understand the full implications and limitations involved in creating and funding an irrevocable trust prior to its execution.
  • Advance Directives
    The use of advance directives is a legal mechanism by which the client can address the problems that may arise if he/she becomes disabled, incapacitated or incompetent.  The basic documents are a power of attorney and a health care proxy/living will.  Some advantages to preparing advance directives are avoiding the need for guardianship proceedings which can be costly and lengthy, the ability of the client to make the choice of the individual who will serve as decision-maker, the ability of the client to specify the kind of care he/she desires if in the event of an incapacitating medical condition and the provision of continuity of transactions in the face of the client’s incapacity or incompetence.

    • Power of Attorney
      The power of attorney is used to give a trusted individual the authority to handle the financial affairs of the client. The client determines how expansive or limited the authority of his/her agent will be by indicating on the power of attorney document the powers he/she wishes to grant to the agent.  The client may also provide for successor or alternate agents and for compensation of his/her agent(s) by so indicating in the document.
    • Health Care Proxy/Living Will
      The health care proxy and living will are documents designed to convey the authority to others to make medical decisions for the client at a time when he/she is unable to do so. The health care proxy is a means by which the client grants authority to a specific trusted person to make health care decisions for him/her.  There are formal requirements that must be adhered to in order for the health care proxy to be effective in New York State. The health care proxy is effective during periods of temporary or permanent incapacity. The living will is a means by which the client conveys specific instructions regarding his/her medical care during periods of incapacity. This document can be used directly by medical personnel in determining the intent and desire of the patient.

It would be our honor to serve you if you require the assistance of an Estate Planning attorney in the Capital District. Let us know if you would like us to evaluate your estate plan or if you would like us to create one for you. Please call us at 518-371-5977 or contact us now.