Buffalo Estate Planning Checklist & Guide
Estate planning is not just for the old and wealthy. Even young, single people should start legal, financial and medical planning for death or disability.
You should discuss the following legal tools with your attorney:
- Durable Powers of Attorney. By signing a power of attorney, you can authorize another person to act on your behalf to perform any number of specified onto such as: real estate transactions, banking, operation of a business, insurance or lawsuits.
- There are two types of durable powers of attorney:
- An “immediate power of attorney” which is not affected by your subsequent disability or incapacity; and
- A “springing power of attorney” which does not go into effect until you become disabled or incapacitated.
- Trusts are an agreement under which a person or institution (trustee) holds legal title to real or personal property for the benefit of another (beneficiary). The person who creates the trust is known as the grantor.
- The trust agreement sets forth the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. Living trusts, also known as inter vivos trusts, have numerous advantages including proper management of assets; avoidance of probate; eliminating the need for guardianships, life estates or joint ownership; and assuring privacy.
- The Living Will is a declaration which instructs your family and your doctor about life-prolonging medical procedures when your condition is terminal and there is no chance of recovery. Under constitutional and common law, you have the right to refuse medical treatment. A living will gives you the opportunity to express your wishes in advance, since you may not be able to make them known when it becomes necessary to do so. Life prolonging procedures include hooking you up to a machine when you cannot breathe on your own, performing operations or prescribing antibiotics that cannot realistically increase your chance of recovery, starting your heart mechanically when it has stopped beating or feeding you by tube.
- Health Care Proxies recognize your right to appoint a health care agent that you trust to decide about medical treatment in the event that you become unable to decide personally. Unless you specify otherwise, the agent will have the same authority that you would decide about treatment. The authority encompasses the right to forego treatment or to consent for needed treatment. The agent’s authority begins only when a physician determines that you have lost the capacity to decide about treatment.
- Wills. By executing a will, you may dispose of property at your death in the proportions and to the persons you wish, appoint competent and trustworthy executors, trustees and children’s guardians and create testamentary trusts.
- Life Estates should be explored.
- Joint Ownership should also be considered.
- Gifts can also be a significant element of one’s estate-planning strategy.