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Syracuse Elder Law Blog

Choosing the best person to be your medical power of attorney

When you were young, you probably did not give much thought to estate planning. After all, many New York residents wait until they reach middle age to begin the process. Failing to adequately address your end-of-life wishes, though, could leave you unprepared for medical emergencies. 

Designating a medical power of attorney allows you to advocate for yourself even when incapable of making medical decisions. With an MPOA, sometimes called a durable power of attorney or healthcare proxy, you name a person who can make medical decisions for you. When selecting someone to act as your MPOA, look for the following five traits: 

The necessary elements of an estate plan

Getting an estate plan together may be a New Year's resolution for some people in New York. To start, an estate planner will need a last will and testament. This directs assets to beneficiaries. Before creating a will, however, one should review their assets and address any issues related to property ownership or other unfinished business.

An estate planner should also consider setting up a power of attorney. This person would step in and manage their financial matters if they are unable to do so. A health care proxy allows someone else to make health care decisions if a person cannot. It is important to discuss wishes for medical care, including end-of-life care, with the person who has this responsibility.

Traits of a quality long-term care insurance plan

Having insurance is a good choice to make, but selecting the right provider is even more critical. The wrong insurance provider may not provide the full coverage you or your loved one need when the time comes.

In the case of long-term care insurance, the proper insurance assistance can be very instrumental in receiving the proper care. There are a few important traits to look for in a plan.

The benefits of creating an estate plan

An estate plan can be beneficial to anyone who lives in New York, regardless of their age or level of wealth. The first step in the process is to create an inventory of assets that may need to be transferred upon passing. These assets could include life insurance policies, the title to a car or the title to a home.

Next, it is a good idea to appoint an agent to look over finances or make medical decisions. This person would gain the authority to pay bills or review a treatment plan in the event that an individual becomes incapacitated. Unless an asset is owned jointly, a spouse will not be able to sell that asset without getting approval ahead of time.

Including life insurance in an estate plan

Life insurance can be a tool for people in New York to help them plan for the future. As the youngest members of the baby boomer generation will turn 55 in 2019, many are turning their thoughts to estate planning, including how to pass on their property to their loved ones after they are gone. Life insurance can help people transfer wealth and plan for the future on multiple levels. According to some studies, 42 percent of baby boomers don't have an estate plan in place. Many more who do have wills in place have not reviewed the documents in years.

In fact, baby boomers collectively represent the wealthiest single generation in the country's history with over $30 trillion in assets. If people do not plan for the future, however, a portion of that property could be lost to fees and other otherwise unnecessary expenses. Life insurance can be important for several reasons, particularly the access to cash it provides even while a person's estate is going through the process of distribution.

Tips to creating an estate plan

New York residents are strongly encouraged to have a will as part of their estate plan. In some cases, the will itself will be sufficient to accomplish a person's goals. However, there is a chance that more than just a will is necessary to create a proper estate plan. It is essential to understand that there are many different ways to transfer assets such as using a beneficiary designation or payable on death designation.

These assets will go directly to a beneficiary when a person passes, and they generally don't need to go through probate. Of course, those who only need a way to transfer assets and aren't worried about probate may meet their goals with a will alone. There are other issues that a person should consider when creating an estate plan. For instance, medical and financial power of attorney can help a person manage assets while alive but incapacitated.

Do not overlook these 4 estate planning tools

Creating a will is a great start to your estate plan. If you have simple assets, this may be enough for you. However, more documents are often necessary to get the most out of the estate planning process.

If you want to leave your estate to your heirs in the most efficient, cost-effective and sound manner possible, you may need to consider other estate planning tools. Here are some estate planning matters you should not overlook.

Terminating power of attorney

When individuals living in New York establish an estate plan, many of them opt to designate a trusted friend or relative with power of attorney. Power of attorney allows an appointed individual to act on behalf of somebody who is no longer able to make decisions for him or herself.

A person who has power of attorney may be vested with a wide range of powers, including the ability to determine how money is spent, assets are managed or medical care is decided. Because these powers are so significant, it is very important that individuals who are planning and estate choose a person they absolutely trust for this role. Unfortunately, circumstances can change, and an individual may decide that the person they chose to assume power of attorney is no longer suited to that role.

Long-term married couples and estate plans

Situations in which long-term married couples die with a short time period of one another bring up a number of estate planning issues. Couples in New York who have been married for a long time should be aware that it can make the administration of their estate more difficult for surviving loved ones. The way the estate has to be handled will depend on the time in between the deaths of the spouses and their specific estate plan details.

In many cases, the wills and trusts in estate plans will include survivorship provisions that require the surviving spouse to remain alive a certain amount of time. If a spouse passes with within a certain period, like within three weeks, the death may be considered as predeceasing the other spouse, which can have certain consequences according the estate planning documents. In lieu of processing the two estates one after the other, the estate administration process can be more simplified.

5 things you may want to add to your estate plan

A big hit in the 1980s and 90s, “The Golden Girls” is making a resurgence in syndication. Hardly a day goes by when you cannot turn on the television to see Rose, Blanche, Dorothy and Sofia working through the sort of everyday events that elderly women face. Estelle Getty, the actress who portrayed Sofia, was notoriously afraid of dying. 

While it can be difficult to think about, death is something everyone must eventually face. By creating a comprehensive estate plan, you can help your children better manage the grieving process. After all, if your heirs do not have to wonder about distributing your assets, they can focus on other matters. Here are five things you may want to add to your estate plan.