As you grow older, you need a plan to protect your wealth, manage your affairs, and support your loved ones. An estate plan lets you express your wishes for settling your affairs and safeguard your financial interests. Developing an estate plan can feel overwhelming and complicated, but you don’t have to figure out the future alone. An experienced estate planning lawyer from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can offer sound legal advice and customized solutions that work for you.
With close to six decades of combined experience in estate planning, elder law, and long-term care planning, Michael J. Amoruso and Sreelekha Chakrabarty Amoruso will provide you with the necessary support and direction through the estate planning process. Our signature comprehensive estate planning service has brought peace of mind to thousands of clients in Carmel and the surrounding communities.
If you already have an estate plan, allow Amoruso & Amoruso LLP to give it a thorough review. We’ll identify any areas that could use revisions or corrections and advise you on options for making it better based on your individual goals. Be assured that, if no changes are needed, we will tell you and you will have the peace of mind that your plan accomplishes your objectives.
We can assist you and your family to ensure your needs and wishes are honored. Contact us today to learn what a Carmel, NY, estate planning lawyer from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can do for you.
What’s the Importance of Having an Estate Plan?
An estate plan gives you control over the distribution of your property after your death. A solid plan can bypass probate, minimize tax liabilities, and increase the value of inheritances you leave to family members and beneficiaries. It also allows you to make guardianship decisions to ensure the welfare of your minor children if something catastrophic happens to you or a co-parent. Estate planning tools can also protect your children’s inheritances until they are mature enough to handle them independently.
Regardless of your age or financial status, you should consider preparing an estate plan. Without one, your family may face significant consequences and confusion if an emergency occurs.
What Is Comprehensive Estate Planning?
Amoruso & Amoruso LLP’s innovative comprehensive estate planning service is a holistic approach to managing your financial and personal affairs. It goes beyond drafting a will and takes a deep dive into all aspects of your life and estate. The process includes analyzing your finances, documenting your healthcare preferences, ensuring that your children are cared for according to your wishes, preserving your eligibility for Medicaid benefits, and much more.
After a careful review of your circumstances, our estate planning attorneys can recommend the best tools and solutions to minimize the tax burdens on your estate, avoid probate, and ensure that the people and causes you care about are taken care of when you are gone. It should include long-term financial planning, tax planning, and long-term care planning if needed.
In addition, a comprehensive estate plan can reduce or eliminate family conflicts if you become incapacitated or pass away. For example, advance directives like powers of attorney and health care proxies allow you to communicate your wishes and authorize someone you trust to make legal, financial, and medical decisions on your behalf. Making your expectations clear to your family decreases the chances of misunderstandings.
What Makes Up Comprehensive Estate Planning?
A comprehensive estate plan uses many legal tools and strategies to preserve your wealth over the long term, such as:
Elder Law/Long-Term Care Planning
You can use elder law/long-term planning to protect assets for loved ones and qualify for Medicaid or other government benefits. To be eligible for Medicaid, you must have income and assets under specific thresholds. Long-term care planning allows you to stay below these thresholds to get nursing home or other long-term care resources.
A will serves as the backbone of a comprehensive estate plan. You can use a will to distribute assets, appoint someone to manage your estate, and nominate guardians for your minor children.
In a trust, a trustee takes ownership of your assets and manages them for your beneficiaries according to guidelines you specify. You can use a trust to pass on inheritances, protect assets from creditors, and avoid probate costs and tax liabilities.
With a living trust, you place assets in a trust and retain the use of those assets during your lifetime. A living trust can make asset distribution easier and allows your estate to avoid probate, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
Estate/Gift/Income Tax Planning
A well-crafted estate plan protects your wealth by minimizing tax liabilities. This may be accomplished through gifts, charitable giving, and other financial strategies.
Financial planning is a crucial part of estate planning. It involves analyzing your current finances, accounting for your expected income and future costs, and building a long-term plan for preserving your assets.
You have likely accumulated substantial assets throughout your lifetime. Retirement planning focuses on strategies to save, invest, and plan ahead so you have income that maintains your standard of living after you retire.
You may need to rely on Medicaid or other government benefits to help with nursing homes or additional long-term care costs. Medicaid planning ensures you qualify for benefits while preserving assets for your heirs.
Planning to Leave Assets to Loved Ones in a Way That Protects the Assets
Depending on your circumstances, your estate plan may need to be structured specially to protect assets you plan to leave for your loved ones.
Assets from Divorce, Creditors, Spendthrifts, and Substance Abuse
An estate plan can protect your loved ones from losing their inheritance due to divorce, creditors, or poor financial decisions. Tools such as spendthrift trusts can shield your assets from seizure while providing your heirs with a reasonable income.
Business Succession Planning
If you’ve gained wealth by building a successful business, you want to ensure it continues providing for your loved ones after your retirement or death. Business succession planning allows you to choose someone to assume management duties when you retire, pass away, or become incapacitated.
Special Needs Planning
If a loved one has special needs, you will likely want to ensure they have care and support after you pass away. Potential special needs planning tools include:
- Supplemental Needs Trusts – This is a specific type of trust designed to use third-party or inherited dollars to enhance the quality of life for a beneficiary, over and above any government benefits. These funds do not count toward a beneficiary’s resource limits for government programs, allowing them to remain eligible for these benefits.
- Special Needs Trusts – This is a specific type of trust designed to use an individual’s own assets to enhance his/her life. The assets held in these trusts do not count toward a beneficiary’s resource limits for government programs, allowing them to remain eligible for these benefits.
- Supported Decision-Making – In supported decision-making, a team of advisors helps a person with special needs make life decisions.
- 17-A Guardianship – In New York, a 17-A guardianship appoints an individual to serve as guardian for a disabled individual over age 18. A 17-A guardianship may be appropriate for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Charitable planning allows you to make gifts to the causes and organizations you care about while leveraging tax benefits. Strategies like donor-advised funds or charitable trusts enable you to leave a meaningful legacy and protect your assets.
What Are Other Elements of a Successful Estate Plan?
A comprehensive estate plan may also include other elements depending on your needs, concerns, and goals, such as:
- Advance directives – Advance directives are legal documents such as a health care proxy, a power of attorney, and a disposition of remains. A Health Care Proxy appoints someone you choose to make medical decisions (including end-of-life decisions) for you. A Power of Attorney will allow a trusted family member or friend to handle your financial and/or legal matters. This can be helpful if you face an illness or injury or you lack mental capacity. With life care planning, your family has the guidance and tools necessary to make financial and health care decisions when you cannot do so.
- Guardianship – In an estate plan, you can name someone to care for your children or dependents if you become incapacitated or pass away. Choosing a guardian can provide peace of mind that the ones you love most will have reliable and trusted care when you are gone.
- Probate, Estate, and Trust Administration – During estate planning, you can nominate people or entities to manage your trusts and estate. This strategy allows you to bypass probate and make settling your affairs easier for trustees, executors, and intended beneficiaries.
How Much Does an Estate Plan Cost in Carmel?
Legal costs and fees for estate planning depend on the size of your estate and the documents or tools needed to carry out your wishes. Using a cookie-cutter online template may seem cost-effective, but it can be damaging in the long run without oversight from a skilled estate planning attorney. For this reason, the benefits of comprehensive estate planning outweigh the costs. Most importantly, a comprehensive estate plan also provides reassurance that you’ve protected your and your family’s interests and future.
How Can a Carmel, NY, Estate Planning Attorney Help?
With so many tools available, figuring out how to develop an estate plan can seem overwhelming. A Carmel, NY, estate planning attorney from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can guide you through each step to create a well-rounded plan. When you turn to us for help preparing an estate plan, you can expect our legal team to:
- Identify and inventory your assets
- Draft and update wills
- Set up various trusts based on your unique needs
- Transfer assets into trusts
- Advise on the most tax-efficient way to structure your estate
- Facilitate delicate discussions about your end-of-life wishes with your family
- Discuss business succession planning, if appropriate
- Establish guardianships
- Utilize probate avoidance techniques to minimize court involvement and maximize privacy
- Use our crisis planning experience to develop practical solutions if you or your family face an emergency
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Carmel, NY, Today
You deserve the comfort and reassurance that a comprehensive estate plan from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can offer. Let an experienced Carmel, NY, estate planning lawyer from our firm sit down with you to discuss your goals and outline strategies to secure your financial future. Our attorneys place a premium on building relationships that last. When you need us, we’ll be there to update your estate plan or make new arrangements based on changing life events. Contact us today to learn how an estate planning lawyer in Carmel can help you.