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Basic elements of estate planning for elderly New Yorkers

Unsurprisingly, over 30 percent of Americans polled would prefer to do almost anything else if doing so means avoiding a conversation about their wills or estate plans. While some older residents of New York may already have the legal documentation in order, others may have been putting off this important preparation for any variety of reasons. Regardless of which category elderly parents fall into, the estate planning conversation is an important one for their children or loved ones to have with them.

Even if an older parent has already completed all of his or her estate planning, a discussion with loved ones can still be crucial. Adult children or loved ones should be aware of where the relevant paperwork is located. If the aging individual has not completed any estate planning, however, a simple offer to help may be all that is needed to get the important process underway. The planning does not need to be overly complicated, and even in more complex situations involving past divorces or large amounts of money, an estate planning attorney can help make the process smoother and easier.

Some key elements of estate planning are a will, a  trust, powers of attorney and an advanced medical directive. A will stipulates where assets go after death. A living or revocable trust can be used while the individual is still alive, then bypasses the probate process after death to allow for asset distribution to beneficiaries.

A durable power of attorney allows an aging individual to choose someone to make financial or legal decisions in the event that he or she becomes unable to do so. An advance health care directive outlines medical decisions about how the individual wishes to be treated if he or she is incapable of making medical wishes known; a proxy can also be named to make medical decision for the individual. These documents cover some of the more crucial basics of estate planning, and a New York attorney with experience in elder law planning will be able to provide guidance to any individuals in need of assistance with their preparation.

Source: CBS Boston, "Father's Day: Estate Planning", Dee Lee, June 16, 2017

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