Estate Planning Lawyers in Yonkers, NY

Helping Elder Law Clients Prepare for the Future

Much of life is about planning. Planning a wedding, planning your career moves, planning for the education of your children, and then planning for how you want to live out your retirement years. Many people put off estate planning because it can be difficult to think about the people and things they will eventually leave behind, but estate planning doesn’t have to be sad or depressing. Instead, it can lift a burden you may not realize you were carrying and provide you peace of mind so you can enjoy the rest of your life.

When you’re making decisions that affect your assets and loved ones, it’s important to work with an estate planning attorney you trust. At the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, our team has decades of experience helping clients just like you create comprehensive estate plans that are tailored to their unique needs.

What Do Estate Planning Attorneys Do?

Estate planning attorneys help their clients make decisions regarding end-of-life choices, including who will inherit your assets and who will be responsible for settling your estate. Estate planning law can also interact with other legal areas, such as residential real estate law or Medicaid planning. An estate planning attorney can help you set up joint ownership of real estate assets or understand what needs to happen after your passing to ensure your designated beneficiary ends up with your home. Estate planning tools like trusts can also be extremely helpful when it comes to Medicaid planning and ensuring your assets are protected.

Why Is It Important to Have an Estate Plan?

Estate planning offers myriad benefits, and discussing your estate planning needs with an attorney is the first step. Some of the advantages estate planning can offer include:

  • Keeping control over how your assets are distributed
  • Security and peace of mind
  • Reduced estate taxes
  • Maintaining privacy for any assets that don’t go through probate
  • Flexibility
  • Easier transition for beneficiaries and other loved ones

Proper estate planning can also help you avoid unnecessary estate taxes, which can leave more money for your beneficiaries. Through proper estate planning, you can take advantage of gifting and other strategies to lower the inheritance taxes for your loved ones.

What Estate Planning Documents Do I Need?

What documents should be part of your estate plan depends on your needs and goals. However, the one piece that every person should have is a last will and testament. Setting up a will ensures that your estate isn’t subject to the New York intestacy guidelines and you retain control over what happens to your assets. A living will is also something that everyone can benefit from, as this document outlines your wishes for medical treatment so your care team knows what your preferences are if you are unable to communicate them yourself.

Depending on your situation, you may also want to set up financial and health care powers of attorney. These documents give specific people the legal ability to make decisions on your behalf. For example, a financial power of attorney gives someone the ability to pay your bills for you or take money out of your bank account if you’re no longer able to handle your finances. A health care power of attorney ensures there is a designated person who is responsible for making medical decisions if you are incapacitated. This can also make it easier for your medical team to have one main point of contact when quick decisions need to be made.

Do I Have to Choose a Family Member to Be Executor or Trustee?

Many people choose to name a family member to be in an estate administration role such as executor or trustee, but this isn’t required. It’s also possible to name an attorney at a law firm, an accountant, or another third party who has experience with estate planning cases. A family member or close friend may be the natural choice because you trust them and you feel like they are more familiar with your situation and wishes. However, being close to you can be a hindrance in some situations. The person will be dealing with complicated estate matters while also grieving your passing, and the emotional connection can make it hard for them to make objective decisions. If you’re not sure who to appoint as an executor or trustee during future planning, our law firm can discuss the pros and cons and help you come to a decision.

How Can I Avoid Probate?

Probate is the process through which every estate in Westchester County must pass. It’s notorious for being a slow process because of the time it takes to inventory, value, and settle an estate, and it also keeps your beneficiaries from accessing their inheritances until the process is complete. But there are options to bypass probate for some assets or to at least speed up the process. Assets in trusts do not have to go through probate. Anything that is jointly owned or has a transfer-on-death designation also doesn’t have to go through probate, which can make the process much faster. It’s also possible for a small estate to go through a simplified probate process. In New York, small estates are those that are valued under $50,000.

Estate planning doesn’t have to be difficult or depressing. Instead, it can be empowering and provide you with confidence in your later years because you know you have a plan in place. To take the first step toward creating an estate plan, call the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC, at 914-344-5145.

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