Jan 052010
 

Everyone deserves to have their wishes followed even when they are unable to express those wishes. By preparing the following documents, you are clearly stating for all to see who you would want to make decisions for you if you are unable to, and what those decisions should be. This makes it possible to follow your wishes. If those wishes are not recorded while you are competent to do so, those you wish to act for you may not have authority to do so, and your wishes may not be followed because your wishes are not known. Further, it becomes possible that a loved one or someone else will have to go to court to have a judge, who has never met you, decide who should act for you and then determine what you would want. Therefore, there is no better way for your wishes to be followed than for you to state them clearly in writing. The following is a list of documents everyone should have.

Healthcare Proxy:
Appoints an agent to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to do so, even if only temporarily incapacitated. If capacity returns, the principal’s wishes will be followed. It also allows you to state whether you wish to, or do not wish to, donate any needed organs. For additional facts, visit http://www.ag.ny.gov/bureaus/health_care/resource_center.html.


Living Will:
Statement of a person’s wishes concerning the prolonged artificial life sustaining care he or she would want.

Power of Attorney: 
Allows you, as the principal, to appoint one or more other persons to act as your agents as if you were physically present. The power can be as broad or as narrow as you like. The power of attorney can take effect immediately (by a “Durable” power of attorney) or upon the happening of an event (called a “Springing” power). You can appoint another to simply do your banking, or delegate as broad a range of powers as possible so that planning and other financial and personal matters can be addressed in the event you are unable to act. Because incapacity can happen very suddenly (for example as a result of a severe car accident) it is strongly recommended that everyone have a Durable Power of Attorney and that the powers given be as broad as possible. However, given the power being conveyed, it is also strongly recommended that you carefully consider whom you are appointing as your agent.

Appointing an Agent to Dispose of Remains: 
Allows another to make decisions concerning the disposal of your remains, funeral arrangements and other relevant factors.

Last Will and Testament: 
Just about everyone knows that a Will dictates how one’s property is to be disposed of after death. A Will also states who you want to administer that property. However, a properly drafted Will can also provide significant tax savings and make provisions for an ill spouse or a disabled or minor beneficiary. In the absence of a Will or other testamentary dispositions, the Laws of the State of New York will determine who inherits your property.

Surviving Pet Care

 Posted by on January 1, 2010
Jan 012010
 

According to a Gallup Poll conducted in 2007, 59% of Americans own a cat or dog. Most of these same people view their companion animals as members of the family. The importance people place upon companion animals has only increased in recent years, both in terms of the amount of money spent on them and the reported emotional value owners place upon those pets. Given the affection pet owners have for their pets, it’s no surprise that more and more owners are providing for the pets in the event of the owner’s incapacity or death.

Despite this, most pet owners are unaware or uninformed as to what might happen to their pets should they die or become incapacitated. This is especially significant considering the fact that the American population is aging.

Pet owners can now create legally recognized and enforceable instruments that provide care for their pets in the event of the owner’s disability or death. Section III explains how estate planning practitioners can guide their clients in the creation and us of pet trusts and pet protection agreements, and draft wills with enforceable provisions concerning the care of animal companions.
North shore animal league Surviving Pet Care

Safe Haven:
Will provide a food shelter and medical care until your animal can be adopted.

For further information about the Safe Haven Surviving Pet Care Program, please call 516-883-7900 ext. 354 or e-mail safehaven@animalleague.org.

Jan 012010
 

Why You Need to Plan: 
You worked hard your whole life. You’ve planned to improve your health. You’ve planned to improve your finances. Now that you’re retired, you are looking forward to doing all the things you’ve always dreamed. But have you done your legal planning? Do you have all the documents you need in case of incapacity or sudden long-term illness?

Planning for Incapacity: 
No one likes to think that they may one day be incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves. But obviously this can happen to any of us. Without a Healthcare Proxy, Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney, your loved ones (or others) may have to go to court and have a guardian appointed to make decisions for you based on what they believe your wishes would be. The time and expense of a guardianship proceeding, and the risk that your wishes will not be followed, can be virtually avoided by advanced preparation of a Healthcare Proxy, Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney. The minimal time it takes to complete these documents, versus the time and expense that may result by not having them, makes them a must have for anyone. An elder law attorney can assist you in preparing these documents.

Careful consideration must be given as to whether the individual you choose to act for you will be able to follow your wishes. This means that the person closest to you might not always be the best choice. It is always best to discuss your wishes with your intended agents ahead of time to confirm that they will be comfortable carrying out your wishes. This will give you the piece of mind of knowing that your wishes will be followed, and give them the information they need to follow your wishes.

Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust: 
This Trust acts as the owner of a life insurance policy with the expectation of keeping the policy and its proceeds out of the insured’s estate.

Planning for Illness: 
Should you or a loved one be inflicted with a debilitating illness, consultation with an elder law attorney can avoid costly mistakes in protecting assets. An elder law attorney can also assist you in selecting the appropriate care whether inhome, assisted living, or nursing home.

Planning for Death and post mortem distribution of Assets

Appointment of Agent for Disposition of Remains: 
This document allows you to appoint another to make arrangements concerning the disposal of your remains, be it burial or cremation, and determine if and what type of funeral and make decisions concerning related items decisions. As with the above documents, you should discuss your wishes ahead of time with the person you appoint as your agent.

PreNeed Funeral account:
This account is established with a funeral home, however, most are portable, so if you move, the account can be moved as well. These accounts allow you to prepay for many items associated with a burial, from the casket or cremation to the funeral, to the limos, the flowers, the burial plot, grave opening etc. The benefit of these accounts is they remain revocable and usually interest bearing until an individual applies for Medicaid, and for purposes of Medicaid are not countable resources once they become irrevocable.

Planning for asset distribution after death: 
There are many different ways to dispose of one’s assets. An elder law attorney can discuss your individual needs with you to determine what is best for you.

Last Will and Testament: 
Just about everyone knows that a Will dictates how one’s property is to be disposed of after death. A Will also states who you want to administer that property. However, a properly drafted Will can also provide significant tax savings and make provisions for an ill spouse or a disabled or minor beneficiary. In the absence of a Will or other testamentary dispositions, the Laws of the State of New York will determine who inherits your property.

Living Trust: 
A trust, whether revocable or irrevocable, can either replace or supplement a Will in determining the disposition of one’s estate. The benefit of a Trust versus a Will is that a Trust can transfer assets to the intended beneficiaries pursuant to the Trust’s terms without court intervention and is therefore a private document. As a result, Trust assets can be transferred almost immediately upon the death of the grantor with little or no expense. Because Trusts are flexible documents, they can also be tailored to meet the wishes of the grantor.