A New York Estate Planning Attorney can advise a client regarding the preparation of documents such as a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust. By preparing these documents an individual can provide protection to him or herself and their family during life and after death and avoid protracted Guardianship proceedings and Estate Litigation.
The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many issues regarding Article 81 Guardianship Proceedings. New York Guardianship proceedings are usually necessary when a person becomes incapacitated and does not have a Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney or Living Trust. These documents are advance directives that allow designated agents to make health care, end of life and property management decisions without the delay and complications of seeking court appointments. Unfortunately, in many instances such directives are not prepared and the assistance of a New York Guardianship Attorney will be required to prepare the Court petition and process the Guardianship proceeding. Guardianship proceedings are filed in the County where the incapacitated person resides or is physically present (MHL §81.05) I have represented many clients in Queens Guardianships, Manhattan Guardianships, Brooklyn Guardianships and proceedings in other counties as well.
The creation and signing of other types of documents are also important in both the pre and post death setting. For example, individuals who own businesses should prepare documents such as Shareholder and Partnership Agreements that define the rights and interests of the respective owners and provide specific instructions regarding the transfer of an owner's interest upon death or disability. The failure to seek guidance from a New York Estate Planning Attorney with regard to succession planning can result in disputes and litigation after the death of one or more of the business owners. Such was the case with regard to the founders of the company that created the Archie comics book character. As reported in Estate of Denial on April 26, 2012 the disputes that arise between successors can transform a once peaceful company setting into disarray.
Certainly, having a Last Will which provides for a clear disposition of assets and takes into account those assets that pass by operation of law such as joint accounts, is a fundamental necessity for post death security.
A recent article by Rob Clarfield in Forbes on April 25, 2012 entitled, "7 Major Errors in Estate Planning" provides a short-hand guide to some current considerations. The 7 "errors" discussed in the article are:
1. Not having a plan
2. Online or DIY rather than professionals
3. Failure to Review Beneficiary Designations and Titling of Assets
4. Failure to Consider the Estate and Gift Tax Consequences of Life Insurance
5. Maximizing annual gifts
6. Failure to Take Advantage of the Estate Tax Exemption in 2012
7. Leaving assets outright to Adult Children
As is true in every estate plan, a comprehensive analysis of a person's desires and intentions and family and assets is needed to determine the proper course to follow for their personal plan. Putting the proper documents into place not only provides lifetime stability and protection, but also prevents Estate Litigation in Probate Courts that be destructive to family harmony and costly to the estate beneficiaries.