Rochester Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning encompasses more than drawing up your Will to designate what happens to your assets after you pass away. A knowledgeable estate planning lawyer provides assistance to protect your assets from creditors, minimize estate tax liability, and ensure that transfers to your loved ones can happen as smoothly as possible. Contact a Rochester estate planning lawyer to learn how they can assist you in creating a comprehensive plan to protect what you have spent a lifetime building.

Why is an Estate Planning Lawyer Necessary?

Estate planning lawyers do much more than just prepare a Will. Your lawyer will guide you through additional vital estate planning decisions, such as who should have authority to make medical decisions for you if you can no longer do so (a healthcare proxy) and who should have the authority to manage your finances if you are no longer able to do so (a power of attorney). Estate planning may also involve creating a trust to protect your assets if you need skilled nursing care at some point. The estate planning lawyers at Lacy Katzen work daily to ensure your wishes are respected and your goals achieved, eliminating uncertainties and maximizing the value of the estate you leave as a testament to your life and labors.

The Importance of Writing a Will

If you are a New York State resident and pass away without a Will, the state of New York determines how your assets are divided. For example, if you leave behind a spouse and children, the spouse receives $50,000 plus one-half of the estate balance. The children inherit everything else (the remaining one-half), in which case your spouse may not have enough to live comfortably.

Passing away without a Will may mean your estate is more likely to be contested in Court, if your loved ones disagree with who inherits what items of personal property, or who should be in charge of your estate administration. This could lead to family members fighting over assets and your estate being drained by large litigation legal bills and expenses.

Importantly, with a Will, you can also create guardianship designations for any minor children you may have. No one wants to think about the prospect of being unable to raise your children, but if a person should pass away without appointing a guardian for that minor child, the court will appoint a guardian. Nobody knows your child’s best interests like you do, which is why it is strongly advisable to appoint a guardian you trust for your minor children.

Other Important Estate Planning Documents

Estate planning is a holistic process, and while a Will is essential, there are several other significant documents that residents of New York should be aware of to ensure comprehensive protection of their assets and implementation of their goals:

  • Powers of Attorney (POA): This document allows you to designate an individual to act on your behalf concerning financial and legal matters in the event you become incapacitated. There are different types of POAs, and each serves a unique purpose. It’s crucial to understand the distinctions and ensure you have the appropriate type in place.
  • Health Care Proxies: This document permits you to name someone to make health care decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so yourself. It is essential to have conversations with the designated agent to ensure they understand your medical wishes.
  • Living Wills: In addition to designating someone to make decisions for you in a Health Care Proxy, a Living Will provides specific instructions regarding your medical care should you have a terminal or incurable condition.
  • Revocable Trusts: This is a flexible instrument that allows you to manage your assets during your lifetime and specify their distribution upon your death. Assets placed in this trust can avoid probate, ensuring a quicker and smoother transfer to beneficiaries.
  • Irrevocable Trusts: Unlike its revocable counterpart, this trust cannot be altered or revoked after its creation without the consent of the beneficiaries. This type of Trust can be useful for asset protection and estate tax protection purposes.

Contact an Estate Planning Lawyer Today

Rest assured that our skilled legal representatives are here to help you today with estate planning and your family in the future with estate administration. Our estate planning lawyers are committed to providing wise and practical advice, drawing upon our years of experience to present you with the best legal and tax solutions for your unique circumstances. But it’s more than that.

At Lacy Katzen, estate planning is more than just document preparation or identifying and restructuring assets. It is about making sure your family, friends, and charities are provided for in a meaningful way when you are gone or incapacitated. It is the process of making sure there is a comprehensive plan in place. And it is the security that comes from knowing you have done all you can to take care of those you care about.

We are committed to providing the satisfaction and peace of mind that you are leaving a legacy of a well-spent life and a foundation of a promising future for your loved ones. Contact our firm today to learn how we could help you and your family.

Estate planning seeks to ensure that if you die or become disabled, your personal and financial matters are handled according to your objectives, while minimizing the financial and emotional cost.

Your Last Will and Testament allows you to appoint an Executor and Trustees, designate how and to whom your assets are distributed upon your death, whether to family members, non-relatives or charities, and also allows you to establish trusts for minor or disabled beneficiaries. Your Will is also important for estate tax planning purposes and also allows you to appoint a Guardian for a minor child, and Trustees to handle trust assets for a minor or a disabled beneficiary.

Because if you become incapacitated or incompetent, it allows your designated agent to act in your place to handle your affairs, such as paying your bills. Further, a properly drafted Power of Attorney allows your agent to implement strategies to protect your assets from the cost of long-term care or make gifts of your assets to minimize potential estate or income taxes.

Your family must undertake an expensive guardianship proceeding in court to get someone appointed to act as your guardian, who will have authority to handle your affairs.

Because you can choose the person to make healthcare decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself.

A Living Will is an expression of your intentions regarding medical care should you have a terminal or incurable condition. In the event this occurs, you can direct that medical care should be withheld, unless it will alleviate pain or suffering.

New York State imposes a default estate plan for you; it is called the law of intestacy and the statutes dictate that your closest relatives will inherit your assets.

You get what you pay for. Often those forms are not specific to New York State. You will end up with a signed Will form which, if not properly executed, may not be legally valid. A one-size-fits all form does not capture the legal expertise that goes into estate planning; that includes reviewing your assets (probate and non-probate) and coordinating your Will, trusts, beneficiary designations, and proper titling of your accounts, and taking estate and income tax issues into consideration, working with you, your accountant and your financial advisor to achieve a comprehensive estate plan.

You will also have access to periodic review of your estate planning when tax laws change or when documents need to be updated due to statutory revisions. Finally, the cost of probating your “form Will” could be very costly if a judge has to resolve issues or the Will or its execution is contested.

That depends on what other assets you own and if there is any estate tax owed. Your beneficiaries could be required to pay taxes with no orderly process to do so. If your Will sets up trusts for minor children or disabled beneficiaries, there may be nothing available to fund the trusts if all accounts are Transfer on Death. This is why planning to comprehensively coordinate all aspects of your estate plan for your loved ones is cost effective and beneficial.

Certain assets, such as life insurance, retirement plan and annuities, pass outside of your Will directly to beneficiaries on file with the company holding the asset. Coordinating beneficiary designations with your Will is a key component of an effective estate plan. Otherwise, assets may not pass as intended or may not fund trusts established by your Will. For retirement plans subject to income tax, properly designating beneficiaries is critical; opportunities to defer income tax on retirement assets may be lost and reduce the long-term growth potential for the retirement assets.

There are trusts, called Special Needs Trusts, which can be established in your Will for a beneficiary who is disabled. A Special Needs Trust allows the beneficiary to keep receiving public benefits like SSI or Medicaid. Having a sibling or other person “hold” assets for a disabled person can present significant risk, as that person may die, become disabled, get divorced, or file for bankruptcy, exposing the assets intended for the disabled beneficiary.

Why Choose Lacy Katzen

Our mission is to ethically serve our clients with excellence and teamwork each day.

Over 73 Years of Experience
Nine Attorneys Listed in Best Lawyers in America®
Ranked by Best Lawyers as a Best Law Firm®
Six Attorneys Named as Super Lawyers
One Attorney is a Fellow at the American College of Trial Lawyers

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