Brooklyn Lawyer for Wills, Trusts & Estates
Most people have the idea that a Will concerns distribution of property after death, and that’s true but that’s not all it can or should do for you. There are many different types of Wills and lots of rules that go with them. One certainty that is important to remember and it is always true: if you don’t decide—someone else will. That’s the single most important thing to know and remember about a Last Will and Testament, it is a legally enforceable documentation of your choices.
A Trust is a legal mechanism for one person (or entity) to keep property on for the benefit of another. Trusts provide an almost unlimited number of ways to do this and range from simply protecting one’s life savings from being frittered away by an immature child to complex tax and estate plan schemes designed to hold property for generations.
An Estate Plan is just that: a plan. It may involve planning to ensure that someone is going to be eligible for Medicaid or other government benefits in the future. It may be a plan to coordinate what happens to property if the beneficiary of a Will or Trust is unable or unwilling to accept the intended benefit. Again, there are as many reasons to have an Estate Plan as there are people with needs and/or property. In other words, an Estate Plan isn’t just for the wealthy, it is for anyone who wants to make things happen rather than just let them happen.
Whether you need a Last Will and Testament, a Trust, an Estate Plan or some version of all three, it is important that all the right “legal language” and formalities are in place so you can be confident that what you want to happen, will happened even if you’re not able to personally see that it does.
There is also something called a “Living Will” or Advance Directive. Its purpose is to document and speak your choices for what will happen to you during your life if you are unable to otherwise make your choices known. For example, a Living Will allows you to set out your wishes whether you should be placed on a medical life support system if you become disabled or incapacitated. This is similar to a Health Care Proxy and it is discussed in more detail on that page of our website.