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New York Elder Law Attorney Blog

Estate planning can help individuals control their estates

Some New York residents may not feel that planning for any sort of event is a strong point of theirs. As a result, they may shy away from attempting to create an estate plan because they do not know where to start or what to include. However, avoiding estate planning altogether can have detrimental effects, and with the right assistance, creating a plan may be easier than expected.

Without an estate plan, state law dictates how property is distributed, and surviving loved ones will need to petition the court for control of the estate. This means that extra steps and obligations will be placed on the shoulders of family members, and there is also a greater potential for conflict. Some loved ones may feel that they should receive more of the estate than someone else for various reasons, and complications could arise.

Examining the option of staying in your home

One thing you know too well is that you can't predict the future. Your life may have turned out very different from the way you imagined or planned, and there is no reason to expect your remaining years won't have their own surprises. Some of those surprises may bring joy, and others will bring pain. However, the wisdom in your heart tells you to prepare the best way possible for the difficult times that may arise.

Like many people as they grow older, you may have a difficult time imagining becoming too ill to stay in your home. It may be your goal to remain in the home where you raised your family for as long as possible, until the end of your life, if feasible. Fortunately, with proper help, many in New York are able to remain in their homes even after they have undergone surgery or have recently spent time in the hospital.

Considering nursing home options, Medicaid may be useful

When the time comes for a loved one to enter a nursing home facility, it can be a difficult transition for everyone involved. There may be numerous concerns to consider, such as ensuring that the individual will receive the proper care. Of course, financial aspects can also cause concern, and questions regarding Medicaid may come about.

Before deciding on a facility, New York residents can take multiple steps to determine whether the nursing home will meet their needs. Visiting the homes in person can help ensure individuals gain a first-hand experience with how staff members treat residents, how clean the facility stays and what accommodations are available for certain needs. Without going to facilities in person, individuals may not know what they are setting their loved ones up for.

Advance health care directives can be made well ahead of time

It is not unusual for individuals to want others to understand how they would personally handle certain situations. However, there may come a time when parties are not able to effectively communicate their wishes. When it comes to personal care, not having instructions in place can seem frightening. Luckily, New York residents could utilize advance health care directives to detail their desires for care.

Some people may think that they have plenty of time to create such directives, but planning ahead may be in most individuals' best interests. Sudden events could easily leave people incapacitated, and not having these plans in place could place loved ones in a difficult position of having to make medical decisions. If parties have specific individuals in mind to make decisions in such a situation, they can appoint health care power of attorney agents.

Updating beneficiaries could make estate planning more effective

Knowing the importance of having an estate plan has helped many New York residents get their affairs in order. Estate planning can allow individuals to assess their lives at a particular moment, consider aspects of their futures and determine what details may help them structure their end-of-life wishes. Of course, since planning does initially take place at one moment in life and changes often occur, reviewing and updating plans could help avoid mistakes.

Reviewing beneficiaries can be one step that could ensure that an estate plan stays effective. If an individual did not name any beneficiaries when initially creating a plan, he or she may understand that the estate would need to go through probate and that assets would likely pass to next of kin without specification in a will. However, over time, a person may become less satisfied with this arrangement and want to add beneficiaries to bequeath specific items to certain people.

Estate planning could help ensure special needs are met

Parents of children with disabilities know that many joys and struggles can present themselves in their own and their children's lives. Though New York parents may do their best to care for their kids and ensure they live the fullest lives possible, they may forget to plan ahead for a time when the parents are no longer around. However, estate planning could help.

Though disabled individuals may have struggles in their lives, many people are living long lives despite their disabilities. However, these individuals may still need care long into their adult years. In a recent survey, it was reported that 77 percent of participants had disabled children who lived with them. Over 12 percent of respondents stated that they had not taken certain steps to help ensure that the needs of their children would be met in the event of their deaths.

Do you have questions about how to name an executor?

As you grow older or reach certain milestones in your life, you may begin thinking about what the future may hold for you. Going even further, you may think about what the future could bring for your family. Because you undoubtedly want to ensure that they are taken care of in the event of your passing, you may feel that the time has come to create an estate plan.

Choosing to start estate planning is a step of which you should feel proud. This task can seem daunting, and many people choose to put it off as long as possible. However, getting started early could save both you and your family from unnecessary complications. Of course, you may wonder what parts of the process you should tackle first, and for many people, choosing an executor may land at the top of the list.

New York estate planning: It's not just for the wealthy

Having an estate plan in New York used to be considered something for only the very wealthy. This, however, is far from the case. Nearly everyone can benefit from estate planning, and the sooner the process is begun, the better.

If an individual passes away or merely becomes incapacitated and unable to communicate their desires, having an established estate plan is the only way to ensure that his or her wishes are fulfilled. When a person dies without an estate plan in place – dying intestate – the state decides how the assets will be distributed to any surviving heirs, including children, spouses, parents or other relatives. The individual's assets and property may even revert back to the possession of the state.

Medicaid planning and how it differs from Medicare in New York

A common source of uncertainty for many in New York and elsewhere is the difference between Medicare and Medicaid. Many individuals confuse the two, and still more wonder why Medicaid planning is even necessary, assuming without much forethought that they will be able to rely on the government program when the time comes. In fact, not only do the two programs differ greatly, but without adequate preparation, qualifying for Medicaid may come at a high cost.

Essentially, Medicare is a health insurance program through the federal government, while Medicaid is a medical assistance program jointly run by both state and federal governments. Medicare pays seniors' – individuals over the age of 65 – medical bills from a fund into which those covered have paid during their working lives. Medicaid, on the other hand, is a needs-based program for low-income individuals.

No end to benefits of early estate planning in New York

A common misconception among aging New York residents is that estate plans are only for the wealthy. In fact, every family can benefit from basic estate planning for a number of reasons, and the older an individual gets, the more important it becomes to act quickly. While planning for what will happen after an individual passes away may not be pleasant to think about or discuss, delaying estate planning until it's too late is far worse for surviving family members.

First and foremost, many married individuals will want to ensure that the surviving spouse is financially protected. However, even those who are divorced or whose spouse has since passed away may wish to preserve and protect an inheritance for children and grandchildren. This is especially true in cases involving minor children or those with disabilities, but also for adult children from previous marriages.

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