At one time, estate planning consisted of merely a last will and testament. For the very wealthy, it might have consisted of a trust. In modern times, estate planning can and should be much more than just preparing a will. New York residents should consider some of the options available.
Estate planning is a term to describe a prearranged series of documents or actions intended to carry out the wishes of a person who is either deceased or incapacitated. Modern estate planning seeks to make transfer of property and last wishes as least burdensome as possible.
Though a will is the final instructions for the transfer of property to those chosen by the deceased after death, modern alternatives are available. A living trust is a document that transfers property while a person is living to a trust. The property will be then transferred pursuant to instructions placed in the trust.
The creator of the trust can retain control of the property while alive. It has the added advantage of being an operable document in the event the creator becomes disabled. It may also transfer property without the necessity of opening a probate case, an expensive and lengthy procedure.
Disability is another issue to consider in modern estate planning. Powers of attorney or proxies allow a person to choose who makes decisions for the disabled person. One person may be appointed for financial decisions and another for healthcare decisions. A living will is used to make a decision as to whether to be kept alive by artificial means.
These documents, used for a multitude of decisions, are the province of an estate planning attorney. The attorney may be able to review the client's financial situation and advise on which options suit the client's needs and desires.