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Westchester County Estate Planning Lawyer
Planning your estate is a complex process that requires careful attention to detail. It involves more than deciding who gets which of your assets after you pass. It’s about securing your legacy, your family’s future, and your own well-being if you become incapacitated.
At Amoruso & Amoruso LLP, our seasoned attorneys have helped countless clients in Westchester County through the estate planning process. With nearly 60 years of combined experience in estate planning, elder law, and long-term care planning, Michael J. Amoruso and Sreelekha Chakrabarty Amoruso will guide you every step of the way.
Our signature comprehensive estate planning service has brought peace of mind to thousands of clients throughout Mount Pleasant, Rye Brook, White Plains, Yonkers, New Castle, and North Castle. This innovative strategy is designed to manage, preserve, and distribute your wealth and assets in life and after death. It is a holistic framework that takes a big-picture view of your estate and combines interconnected elements such as tax implications, future healthcare decisions, dependent care, asset distribution, elder law, and more into a customized plan for maximum financial security and personal protection.
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. Contact us today to learn how an estate planning lawyer in Westchester County can help you.
Ready to get started? Contact Amoruso & Amoruso LLP to learn how a Westchester County estate planning lawyer can create a plan that aligns with your needs and goals.
What’s the Importance of Having an Estate Plan?
Estate plans include documents like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives. But an estate plan is more than just a set of legal instruments. It’s a comprehensive process that outlines how you want your assets and affairs to be managed after you die or if you can no longer make decisions for yourself. Without an estate plan, New York laws dictate what happens to you and your property, which might not align with your wishes or needs.
A well-built estate plan protects your assets from unnecessary taxation and ensures a smoother transition of property. It can also set up guardianships or special needs trusts for minor children or dependents, providing comfort that your loved ones will be cared for as you see fit. Estate planning also allows you to protect your children’s inheritances until they are mature enough to manage it themselves. In addition, an advance directive, like a health care proxy, can express your medical treatment preferences if you can’t communicate them yourself.
Creating an estate plan is an act of foresight and kindness, sparing your family the emotional and financial stress that comes with an unplanned estate. A Westchester County estate planning attorney from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can help you through the complex legal process of creating a tailored plan that suits your needs.
What Is Comprehensive Estate Planning?
A core Amoruso & Amoruso LLP service, comprehensive estate planning is a thorough approach that goes beyond preparing a will or setting up a trust. A comprehensive estate plan involves an in-depth review of all aspects of your life and estate, from finances to long-term care planning and everything in between.
Amoruso & Amoruso LLP designed this signature solution, which combines essential estate planning tools including wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, long-term financial planning, tax planning, healthcare proxies, long-term care planning, and much more. Each of these serves a unique purpose. For example, a living trust can allow for a seamless transition of asset management if you become incapacitated without the need for court approval. A health care proxy can nominate someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so.
Comprehensive estate planning aims to create a cohesive plan that accounts for various contingencies down the road. This ensures that your finances, health, legal rights, and dependents get taken care of according to your wishes, no matter the circumstances. A knowledgeable lawyer from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP can guide you through establishing a comprehensive estate plan that does exactly what you want.
What Makes Up Comprehensive Estate Planning?
A comprehensive estate plan addresses your wishes for asset distribution, healthcare decisions, financial management, and more. The following are key components of a comprehensive estate plan:
Long-Term Care Planning
Long-term care planning involves preparing for what happens if you can no longer perform daily activities due to age, illness, or disability. This could include considering the need for long-term care insurance and reviewing other options that can benefit you as you age.
A will is a cornerstone document of any estate plan. It outlines how your assets should be distributed after your death and allows you to name an executor to manage this process. You can also nominate guardians for minors or dependent children.
Trusts are legal entities that hold assets for the benefit of named individuals or organizations called beneficiaries. Trusts provide a high level of control over asset distribution and significant tax advantages.
A living trust is one you can create, manage, and benefit from while you are still alive. It also allows for the immediate transfer of assets upon your death without the need for probate. Living trusts are particularly useful in complex family situations or for individuals with significant assets. Living trusts also allow you to set up mechanisms for asset management if you become incapacitated.
Estate, Gift, and Income Tax Planning
Tax planning requires developing strategies to minimize the taxable impact of transferring assets during your lifetime as gifts or after your death as bequests. Effective tax planning can provide significant savings and give your beneficiaries larger inheritances.
Financial planning in the context of estate planning involves analyzing your current finances and assessing how to grow, manage, and eventually distribute your wealth. This can include investment strategies, life insurance policies, and other financial instruments that work with your estate plan.
Retirement planning focuses on ensuring you have sufficient funds and asset management strategies once you stop working. Tools to achieve this can include individual retirement accounts (IRAs), pension plans, and other savings vehicles that work with your estate plan’s financial and tax planning components.
Medicaid planning is crucial to ensure you qualify for government assistance with long-term healthcare costs. You must structure your assets so you are eligible for Medicaid benefits while preserving as much wealth as possible for heirs.
Planning to Leave Assets to Loved Ones in a Way That Protects the Assets
A solid estate plan does more than distribute assets. It also protects them to provide maximum benefit for your beneficiaries.
Assets from Divorce, Creditors, Spendthrifts, and Substance Abuse
Estate planning instruments like trusts can offer robust protection against divorce settlements, creditor claims, and irresponsible spending. Trust provisions can also address concerns about beneficiaries with substance abuse issues, preventing your legacy from being squandered while still providing for your loved ones.
Succession planning is a crucial part of estate planning for business owners. Succession plans allow for a smooth transition and continued operation of your business after you die.
Beneficiaries with Special Needs
When planning for beneficiaries with special needs, it’s vital to ensure they have the resources they need without jeopardizing their eligibility for public assistance. You can make special provisions with:
- 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 – Supported decision-making is an alternative to guardianship, allowing individuals with special needs to make their own decisions with the help of advisors.
- 17-A Guardianships – In New York, a 17-A guardianship is designed for adults with developmental or intellectual disabilities. The court appoints someone — usually a parent or family member — to make personal and financial decisions for them.
Charitable planning involves using estate planning tools like charitable remainder trusts or donor-advised funds to support a cause or organization you care about while enjoying tax benefits.
What Are Other Elements of a Successful Estate Plan?
These additional components can be part of a well-rounded, comprehensive estate plan:
- 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 – Guardianship involves designating a responsible individual to care for minor children or adult dependents in your absence. By appointing a guardian in your estate plan, you ensure someone you trust cares for your loved ones rather than leaving it up to the court.
- Probate, Estate, and Trust Administration – Effective probate, estate, and trust administration strategies streamline the process of asset distribution after you die. Proper planning can minimize the time and costs of probate, reducing the burden on your family.
How Much Does an Estate Plan Cost in Westchester County?
The cost of creating an estate plan can vary widely based on several factors, including the complexity of your financial situation, your attorney’s billing structure, and the legal instruments you require. However, we encourage you to see estate planning as an investment in a secure financial future and a lasting legacy. Without the protections a solid estate plan provides, your estate may get tied up in litigation, leaving decisions about what happens to your assets up to the court.
Transparency is paramount at Amoruso & Amoruso LLP. Our attorneys will discuss fees and budgeting upfront with you as we develop your comprehensive estate plan.
How Can a Westchester County, NY, Estate Planning Attorney Help?
An experienced Westchester County estate planning lawyer can craft a comprehensive estate plan tailored to your individual needs and circumstances by:
- Drafting your last will and testament
- Establishing appropriate trusts to meet your needs
- Transferring assets into trusts
- Reviewing and updating existing wills and trusts
- Crafting advance healthcare directives
- Setting up powers of attorney for financial or medical decisions
- Advising on tax implications and strategies for wealth preservation
- Designing a strategy for business succession
- Establishing guardianships
- Advising you on asset protection and charitable giving strategies
- Evaluating and addressing potential exposure to estate taxes
- Structuring the estate to address spendthrift or special needs beneficiaries
- Offering counsel on strategies to minimize tax implications
Contact an Experienced Estate Planning Lawyer in Westchester County, NY, Today
Don’t let uncertainties cloud your family’s future. With guidance from Amoruso & Amoruso LLP, you can confidently handle the complexities of estate planning. Our seasoned lawyers will work with you to craft a comprehensive plan addressing your personal needs. We can also help ensure existing estate plans continue to match your goals. Call or contact us today to speak with a Westchester County estate planning attorney.