New York COVID-19 Crisis Estate Planning

The COVID-19 crisis has caused widespread fear about health and mortality. To protect your safety and well-being, we are taking these precautions:

To alleviate your fears and concerns, Friedman & Ranzenhofer, PC is providing:

New York COVID-19 Crisis Estate Planning
Social Distancing

Watch these Videos for New York COVID-19 Crisis Estate Planning:

Please contact us anytime with your needs and concerns. During this difficult time, we will always be available to discuss your estate planning needs and prepare any new documents that you require. We will help you make sure that your estate planning documents carry out your healthcare and financial wishes. We are available to help you seven days a week by telephone (716)542-5444, contact form or chat service. Do not hesitate to contact us about any of your other legal needs. Above all, stay safe and healthy.

That said, New York’s probate Courts are closed to anything other than emergency matters for the foreseeable future. It is now more compelling than ever for you to consider a revocable trust and make lifetime transfers to it now, to avoid probate.

Make Sure Your Estate Planning Is Up-to-Date Now

Locate Copies of Estate Planning Documents, especially Health Documents:
Make sure that your health care proxy (which names a person to make medical decisions for you if you cannot do so yourself) and living will (gives guidance to your proxy of your wishes for end of life care) are available and up-to-date. If you cannot locate copies of your documents, will or revocable trust, please contact us and we will send or email them to you.

Is Your Estate Plan Still Current?
We also can review your overall estate plan with you. Have your circumstances changed? See 22 Reasons to Update Your Will Now

Review Beneficiary Designations:
Review your beneficiary designations on your retirement plans, life insurance, and transfer-on-death accounts. We will advise you on how to coordinate those designations with any will or trust changes.

Probate / Wills

Social Distancing SigningAfter an individual passes on while leaving a will, the legal process is called a probate. The need for probate only occurs if the assets value at $50,000 or more for the person that passed. A will must be admitted to probate by the surrogate’s county court before any legality can take place over the will. In other words, the court decides if the will is valid. Once the will is validated, it must accurately reflect the desires of the testator.

Two witnesses must be present and sign in the presence of one another to validate a will in New York. The person creating the will must do so without any duress or influence; it must be done solely of free will.

To start the probate process, a petition with the court must be filed as well as the original will. The court will issue a decree granting probate as well as letters Testamentary to the Executor or Executors named on the will after all the issues are addressed and the jurisdiction is complete.

If anyone objects to the validation of the will, they can start a will contest by submitting objections to the probate.

The letters testamentary is the document that grants the executor the ability to administer the estate. The executor must take care of the inventory, taxes, paying debt, appraisals as well distributing as the will describes.

Read The Top 20 Most Common Estate & Medicaid Planning Mistakes Made In Buffalo

Power of Attorney

Everyone needs a properly prepared New York statutory power of attorney (POA) to avoid expensive and time-consuming guardianship proceedings. A New York Power of Attorney will save you and your family thousands of dollars and expedite the handling of your financial affairs in the event of mental or physical disability.

By signing a durable power of attorney, you can authorize another person or persons known as the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact” to act on your behalf to perform any number of specified acts. Having a (POA) is useful to manage your affairs if you subsequently become incompetent thus avoiding the need for a more complex and costly guardianship or trust.

Health Care Proxy

Your spouse or other relatives are not legally authorized to make medical decisions on your behalf unless that authority is delegated to them by a living will and health care proxy. 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 specified otherwise, the agent will have the same authority that you would have in deciding 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.

Funding a Trust in New York

For a living trust to go into effect, title to the grantor’s assets must be transferred into the trust. Title to bank accounts, stock certificates or real estate owned by the grantor must be transferred into the trust. Creation of the trust alone does not cause the trust to become funded.

A New York resident executed a living trust agreement that simply recited that his house belonged to and had been assigned to the trust. However, at the time of his death; no deed had actually been executed. Assets that are in a living or “inter vivos” trust avoid probate only if they have actually been transferred to the trust.

A deed is required to transfer real estate into a trust. Merely reciting in the trust agreement that assets are being assigned to or are held by the trust is insufficient for transferring them to the trust. Therefore, the NY Appellate Division, First Department ruled that the house is part of the probate estate, rather than part of the trust.

Contact Our Buffalo Estate Planning Attorneys Today

Our Buffalo estate planning attorneys are committed to providing our clients with the highest level of representation to meet each client’s specific needs. We strive to provide clients with the most effective and efficient results in the most contentious situations. In addition, we are well-versed in all types of dispute resolution methods, including mediation and arbitration.

For information on how we will be offering estate planning services during the coronavirus pandemic, read this article.

Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with our experienced Buffalo estate planning lawyers.