Estate Planning: Things to Keep in Mind

Estate Planning Things to Keep in MindDo you know you need to sort your estate but don’t know where to start? To understand NY estate planning, it is important to recognize that people have different concerns and different goals. One thing I always do when someone first sits down with me is learn their concerns. At the very basic level, people just want to dispose of their assets and deal with things that need to be resolved. I tell everyone that most people should have a will because it clearly states who’s in charge of your affairs and how your assets are to be disposed of. People should also have a healthcare proxy to address the issue of who is to make healthcare decisions if they’re not able to do so and a power of attorney that designates someone to deal with your affairs if you’re living, but not able to manage them yourself. Those three documents, or estate planning techniques, are the basic things people should be thinking about if they’re doing estate planning.

Estate Planning: Things to Keep in Mind | Protecting Assets

When they walk in, many people involved in estate planning are also concerned about long-term care. One question they ask when discussing long-term care is, “How do I protect my home?” or “How do I protect my assets if I’ve got to go into a nursing home?” They don’t really frame these questions in terms of how they will pay for long-term care, although that’s really what they’re talking about. I always tell people, “There are only three ways to pay for long-term care. Either you pay for it yourself, or you purchase long-term care insurance (sadly, by the time people get to me, they can’t get long-term care insurance; however, if they can, I always suggest that they talk to somebody about that), or you get the government to pay for it via Medicaid.

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Estate Planning: Things to Keep in Mind | Medicaid

We then talk to people about how they can apply for Medicaid, answering such questions as, “How do you qualify?” Medicaid is a governmental welfare program, and you’re either eligible for it or you’re not. The real issue is, “How does one become eligible for a program called Medicaid?” We like to spend time talking about the various rules and time limits you have to deal with.

Estate Planning: Things to Keep in Mind | Taxes

Finally, although it’s no longer as prevalent in this area as it used to be, is the issue of estate taxes. With the expansion of credits available for estate taxes for both federal and New York purposes, this is less of a problem for most people. For federal purposes, you can now have an estate over $5 million and, in the case of a husband and wife, the portability concept permits them to exempt $10 million from estate taxes. New York, on the other hand, doesn’t have portability; however, limits in the $5 million range will soon be attached to New York estates. We’re talking about fairly substantial estates at this point. We do talk about estate planning with people who have those concerns and how to deal with those.

If you have any concerns about estate planning and would like to have your questions answered by an experienced lawyer, call us today. Our Buffalo estate planning lawyers are here to help you.

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