It is never too early to start crafting an estate plan, which will likely change over time. Basic estate planning documents include wills or trusts, powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills. At the Law Office of Regine D. Pointdujour, PLLC we will tailor your estate plan to fit your needs.
Health Care Proxy
A health care proxy is an important document that every person should have as part of their overall estate planning portfolio. Under a health care proxy, the person signing (the “Principal”) designates one Health Care Agent and as many successor Health Care Agents as the Principal chooses. This Health Care Agent will make decisions regarding the Principal’s medical treatment in the event that the Principal is unable to make these decisions on their own, as determined by a physician. The Health Care Agent will not be able to make decisions before this determination by a physician and will not be able to make further decisions if there comes a time when the Principal regains capacity.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a document that allows you to appoint a person or organization to manage your property, financial, or medical affairs if you become unable to do so. You should be aware that not all power of attorney has the same "power" - each type gives your attorney-in-fact (the person who will be making decisions on your behalf) a different level of control.
General Power of Attorney -- These powers include handling financial and business transactions, buying life insurance, settling claims, operating business interests, making gifts, and employing professional help. General power of attorney is an effective tool if you will be out of the country and need someone to handle certain matters, or when you are physically or mentally incapable of managing your affairs.
Special Power of Attorney -- You can specify exactly what powers an agent may exercise by signing a special power of attorney. This is often used when one cannot handle certain affairs due to other commitments or health reasons. Selling property (personal and real), managing real estate, collecting debts, and handling business transactions are some of the common matters specified in a special power of attorney document.
Durable Power of Attorney -- This is simply a general, special, or health care POA that has a durability provision to keep the current power of attorney in effect.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship in which one party, known as a trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property or assets for the benefit of a third party, the beneficiary.
Living trust – also called an inter-vivos trust – is a written document in which an individual's assets are provided as a trust for the individual's use and benefit during his lifetime. These assets are transferred to his beneficiaries at the time of the individual's death. The individual has a successor trustee who is in charge of transferring the assets.
Testamentary Trust -- A testamentary trust, also called a will trust, specifies how the assets of an individual are designated after the individual's death.
Revocable Trust -- A revocable trust can be changed or terminated by the trustor during his lifetime.
Irrevocable Trust -- An irrevocable trust, as the name implies, is one the trustor cannot (easily) change once it's established, or one that becomes irrevocable upon his or her death.
A will is a legal document that explicitly states your wishes regarding distribution of your assets after your death. In New York, any adult aged 18 or older who has testamentary capacity at the time the Will is executed may execute a Will. A Will is also the proper instrument to appoint guardians for your minor children in the unlikely event that you predecease them.