Know The Key Documents Of An Estate Plan

The Trotto Law Firm, P.C., is experienced in helping their clients with their individual estate planning needs. Our staff can assist you with the drafting and execution of a will, health care proxy, power of attorney and trust.

Last will and testament. A last will and testament is a legal document that ensures your wishes are followed after your death. A will controls the division of your assets and appoints guardians for children. In your will an executor is nominated to manage the distribution of your assets. If you die without a will, your money will be distributed by the law of intestacy — laws that specify which members of your family will inherit your money. A will ensures that your assets go to the individuals whom you want.

Power of attorney. A power of attorney allows you to appoint an agent to act in your place for any financial or legal transaction. A general durable power of attorney grants the agent power to act on your behalf as soon as you sign, and the agent's power continues if you are incapacitated. You can also specify that your agent only has power if you are incapacitated. The agent has a fiduciary obligation to ensure that they represent your best interests. If you were to become incapacitated and you did not have a power of attorney, your family would have to file a court proceeding called a guardianship petition to be appointed as your Article 81 Guardian. This process can cost tens of thousands of dollars. A power of attorney will prevent this from happening.

Health care proxy. A health care proxy is a legal document that allows you to appoint an agent to make your medical decisions in the event you are unable. You can specify what levels of life sustaining treatment you will receive in the unfortunate event you are unable to make the decision on your own. Your health care agent must make your medical decisions within the bounds of your health care proxy. Every person should have a health care proxy in place.

Trusts. A trust is a legal entity that can manage your assets during your life and after your death, and it allows your estate to avoid probate. It can be difficult to conceptually grasp the concept of a trust; the best way to understand a trust is to think of it as a company. The person who starts the trust is the settler, in a business this would be in the investor. The person who runs the trust is the trustee, in a business this would be the CEO or president. The person who receives money from the trust is the beneficiary, in a business this would be the customer receiving services or the owners receiving money back from the company. One person can be the settler, trustee and beneficiary of a trust. Trusts allow people to avoid probate, preserve money for the children, protect against estate taxes and in some instances avoid having the nursing home take your money.

Please feel free to call 585-484-9970 or email our firm to schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning needs.