The knowledge that we will eventually die is one of the things that distinguish humans from other living beings. At the same time, no one likes to dwell on the prospect of his or her own mortality.
However, if you postpone planning until it is too late, you run the risk that your intended beneficiaries—the people you love the most—may not receive what you would want them to receive, whether due to extra administration costs, unnecessary taxes or squabbling among your heirs.
You also run the risk of losing all of your hard-earned assets to the high cost of nursing home care should you become fully dependent on others.
This is why estate planning is so important, no matter how small your estate may be. It allows you to ensure that your property will go to the people you want, in the way you want, at the time you want. It permits you to save as much as possible on taxes, court costs and attorneys’ fees; and it affords the comfort that your loved ones can mourn your loss without being simultaneously burdened with unnecessary red tape and financial confusion.
All estate plans should include, at minimum, three important instruments:
- A Durable Power-of-Attorney
- A Health Care Proxy
- A Will
First, a Durable Power-of-Attorney is for managing your property during your life, in case you are ever unable to do so yourself. Second, a Health Care Proxy is used to appoint someone you trust to make health care decisions pursuant to your wishes in the event you are unable. Third, a Will is for the management and distribution of your property after death.
In addition, more and more Americans are using Revocable (or “Living”) Trusts to avoid probate and manage their estates, both during their lives and after they’re gone.
At Dutcher and Zatkowsky – RochesterElderLaw.com, we have years of experience designing personalized, effective estate plans for a wide range of individuals and families. We offer all of the following services and more:
Foundational Estate Planning
- Revocable Living Trusts
- Powers of Attorney
- Health Care Proxies and Directives
- HIPAA Authorizations
- Living Wills and other Advanced Directives
Advanced Estate Planning
- Dynasty Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Life Insurance Trusts
- Family Limited Partnerships
- Qualified Personal Residence Trusts
- Charitable Gift Planning
- Generation-Skipping Trusts
- Estate Tax and Income Tax Planning