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What Documents Are Essential to Creating a Basic Estate Plan in New York?

When it comes to estate planning in New York, there are several documents that are essential to ensure that your wishes are carried out if you become incapacitated or pass away. A basic estate plan should include a will, a durable power of attorney, a health care proxy, and a living will.

A will is the most important document in any estate plan. It outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after you pass away. It can also name a guardian for any minor children and appoint an executor to manage the estate. It is crucial to have a will in place to ensure that your wishes are followed. In its absence, New York State intestacy law will determine who gets your assets.

A durable power of attorney allows you to appoint someone to manage your finances and make decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. If you don’t have a durable power of attorney in place and you become unable to manage your financial and legal affairs, your family will have to go to court to request that someone be appointed. That is time-consuming and costly.

A health care proxy is used to appoint someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This document ensures that a person you trust will make those decisions if you are no longer able to do so.

Finally, a living will is a document that outlines your wishes regarding end-of-life care. It allows you to make decisions about your care in advance, so that your wishes are followed if you become incapacitated.

Together, these four documents make up a basic estate plan providing instructions about how you want your assets to be distributed after your death and your financial and medical issues to be handled if you cannot act on your own behalf. Because these documents are so important, you should review and update them periodically so they always reflect your current wishes.

Every family’s circumstances are different and you may need additional estate planning beyond a basic plan. If you have any questions about your estate planning, give us a call at 516-570-4016.