Your Last Will and Testament is likely the single most important document in your Estate Plan. Your Will gives specific instructions as to what should happen to your property after your death and names who you want to be in charge of seeing that your wishes are met. Since a Will plays so many important roles in an effective Estate Plan, an attorney often helps draft it.
If you do not have a valid Will, your property will be distributed under the laws of “intestacy,” which lay out a set framework as to who gets how much of your estate. Without a Will, your property may be divided up in a way you never intended and you have no say as to who handles your property after your death.
People with special needs, especially those on governmental benefits (e.g. SSI or Medicaid), present a unique circumstance for Estate Plans. An inheritance, either through a Will or without one, will likely put their eligibility for those benefits at risk. To help protect their eligibility for benefits, your loved one with a disability will likely be helped by setting up a Special Needs Trust.
A Trust can be included in a Will (and thus take effect after you die), or it can be set up while you are alive. There can be several reasons why one approach or the other would be appropriate. We can discuss the pros and cons of these procedures and help you determine what will be best for you and your family.
Special Needs Trusts
A Special Needs Trust (in New York this is called a Supplemental Needs Trust) is usually the desired approach for people with disabilities. This type of Trust allows your loved one to be eligible for, and continue to receive, governmental benefits (e.g. SSI and Medicaid).
A Special Needs Trust allows you to increase the quality of life of your loved one with a disability by setting aside assets (e.g. money) in the Trust to be used for his or her benefit. The attorneys at KSLN are experienced in advising families and preparing Special Needs Trusts.
Health Care Proxies and Living Wills
A Health Care Proxy (HCP) is a legal document in which you designate a person to make health care decisions for you in the event you become unable to do that for yourself. In effect, a HCP is a power of attorney for health care decisions.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which you give another person the authority to handle your financial affairs. This is an important document that should be done while you are competent to prepare for the possibility that in the future you may not be capable of managing your finances.
To learn more about KSLN, and how we can help you, please contact us today for a free initial consultation.