Get Answers to Your Most Pressing Questions

Q: WHAT IS ESTATE PLANNING?

A. Estate planning is the process of making sure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes upon your death. Good Estate Planning will also consider the tax ramifications of the Plan and make plans to minimize any taxes on the assets transferred to your beneficiary.

Q: WHY DO I NEED TO PLAN?

A. Without an Estate Plan, you will have no control over what happens to your assets upon your death. The New York State Law of Intestacy will control how your assets are distributed. There will be no ability to minimize the tax ramifications of the distribution of your assets after your death without an Estate Plan. A good Estate Plan will also include the appointment of a person, or persons, to raise your minor children in the event that both of the children's parents pass away prior to the children reaching the age of 18 years old.

Q: WHY DO I NEED TO PLAN FOR THE FUTURE?

A. In the event that you do not, while you are in good health, make plans for your future which include plans to distribute your assets upon death, as well as to plan for the possibility of you being incapacitated and not being able to manage your own finances and business affairs, or make your own health care decisions, you will often put your family and friends through great expense. If you fail to plan for these events, you give up your right to control your future. If you fail to plan for your possible incapacitation, and inability to manage your own affairs, a judge will, after a costly process, appoint someone to care for your affairs. That person may not be the person that you would have chosen to be the one to handle your affairs.

Q: WHAT IS A CONSERVATOR?

A. A Conservator is an individual appointed by the New York State Supreme Court or Surrogates Court to manage the financial affairs of an individual known as a Conservatee. A Conservator is appointed by the Courts once a showing has been made that the proposed Conservatee does not have the mental or physical capacities to make their own decisions relative to either their finances and business affairs or their own personal health.

Q: WHAT IS A GUARDIANSHIP?

A. Guardianship is a legal process that is carried out through the court system to appoint a Guardian to manage the assets of a person or to manage the assets and make medical and health care decisions for the person in need of a Guardianship. A Guardianship is put in place for an infant until said child reaches the age of majority. A Guardianship can be put in place for an adult who cannot manage their own affairs and the Guardianship lasts until either the person in need of a Guardianship passes away or becomes capable of taking care of their own affairs.

Q: WILL MY BENEFICIARIES' INHERITANCE BE TAXED?

A. It is possible that your beneficiary's inheritance may be taxed by the United States government and the New York State government. Whether or not a beneficiary's inheritance is taxed depends on the type of assets your beneficiaries receive and the method by with your beneficiary receives those assets. A good Estate Plan will minimize, or eliminate, any taxes your beneficiary will need to pay on their inheritance.

Q: WHAT IS A PROBATE?

A. Probate is the process when Surrogate's Court names an individual as an Executor or Executrix to gather the assets of a decedent and to distribute those assets pursuant to the decedent's Last Will and Testament, or in the absences of a Will, pursuant to the New York State Law of Intestacy. Simple put, Probate is the process which allows an individual who does not own property, or assets, to be able to exercise control over those assets and distribute them to the decedent's heir or beneficiary.