NYC Estate Planning Attorneys
Statewide Estate Planning Representation with Offices in Manhattan, Mineola, and Suffolk
Everyone deserves the peace of mind of knowing your final wishes will be honored should you become incapacitated or pass away. Estate planning gives you the chance to decide what will happen to your property, who will care for your children, and who will act on your behalf. Without an estate plan, state law decides for you.
At Raiser & Kenniff, P.C., we believe a worry-free lifestyle is invaluable. To that end, we help individuals from all walks of life use powerful legal instruments to protect their interests and take control of their futures. Our NYC estate planning lawyers have over 100 years of combined experience and a complete understanding of all relevant laws. When you come to us for help, you will work one-on-one with one of our attorneys, who will review your planning goals and implement tools that address all of your concerns. Our team is committed to serving your needs and can help you make changes to your plan throughout your lifetime.
What is Probate?
Probate is a legal process that takes place after an individual dies, where the court validates and carries out the distribution of the deceased person's assets. The primary purpose of probate is to ensure that the deceased person's debts are paid and that their remaining assets are distributed to the rightful beneficiaries or heirs according to the terms of their will or, in the absence of a will, according to state law.
Here are the key components and steps involved in the probate process:
- Filing a Petition: The probate process typically begins with the filing of a petition in the probate court in the jurisdiction where the deceased person lived at the time of their death. If the deceased had a valid will, the executor named in the will usually initiates the process. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the estate.
- Notification to Heirs and Creditors: Once the petition is filed, heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors are notified of the death and the initiation of probate proceedings. This allows interested parties to make claims against the estate or raise objections if necessary.
- Inventory and Appraisal: The executor or administrator is responsible for creating an inventory of the deceased person's assets and obtaining appraisals when necessary. This step is crucial for determining the total value of the estate.
- Debt Payment: The deceased person's outstanding debts, including taxes, are paid from the estate. The executor or administrator must ensure that all valid claims are settled before distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.
- Distribution of Assets: Once debts are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or, in the absence of a will, according to state intestacy laws.
- Closing the Estate: After all debts are paid, and assets are distributed, the executor or administrator files a final account with the probate court. This includes a record of all transactions related to the estate. Once the court approves the final account, the estate is considered closed.
It's important to note that the probate process can be time-consuming and may involve court fees and other expenses. Additionally, the details of probate proceedings can vary by jurisdiction, and some estates may qualify for simplified or expedited probate procedures.
If you need help creating or updating estate planning documents, schedule a free initial consultation by contacting us online or calling (212)-LAW-1500. Flexible payment options are available, and we offer our legal services in English, Spanish, and Russian.
Building an estate plan takes more than writing your will, which is important but has certain limitations. A comprehensive estate plan will coordinate multiple documents that work together to accomplish your objectives. Many people do not realize the extent of what these powerful instruments can facilitate when properly implemented. Our team at Raiser & Kenniff, P.C. can help you explore your options and develop a custom plan.
Our NYC estate planning attorneys can assist you with many types of documents and tools, including:
- Your Will. In your last will and testament, you decide who will receive your assets, who will serve as your executor, and who will take care of your minor children. Your will is a key piece of your estate plan, but it is not necessarily the most effective tool in the estate planning arsenal. Your will is public, and its contents are subject to probate. In many cases, wills can also be easily contested, which will considerably delay the distribution of estate assets.
- Trusts. A trust can facilitate a more efficient transfer of assets to beneficiaries without the involvement of a probate court. Revocable living trusts can accomplish many of the same tasks as your will, and they can be changed throughout your lifetime. Irrevocable trusts cannot be changed once created, but these instruments are used in service of other goals, such as asset protection or estate tax avoidance.
- Powers of Attorney. A power of attorney document allows the principal to authorize a trusted agent to act on their behalf within a specified scope. For purposes of estate planning, many people choose to use “springing” powers of attorney, which means agents only receive their authority when their principals become incapacitated.
- Advance Directives. You can provide health care instructions for situations in which you become incapacitated in your advance directive, which is also sometimes called a living will. Many people authorize a medical power of attorney to advocate for them using the instructions left in their advance directives.
No matter the size of your estate, your age, or your health, you should have an estate plan if you are an adult. Many people associate estate planning exclusively with asset distribution after you pass away, but a strong estate plan is about more than who gets what.
There is no reason to wait to create an estate plan until you are older or become sick. In fact, doing so is risky. Estate planning is not just about preparing for the inevitable – it is also about preparing for the unexpected. No one can predict a serious car accident that leaves you incapacitated or worse, for example. By taking the time to create an estate plan as early as possible, you protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets in a wide range of scenarios. Your plan can be tailored to suit your specific needs.
When a close loved one passes away, you may learn you have been appointed as the executor of their estate. This means you are responsible for managing probate, the court-supervised process for settling an estate. Every estate goes through some level of probate, which can often be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. As the executor, it will be your job to notify heirs and creditors, inventory and appraise estate assets, pay the deceased’s outstanding debts, file the deceased’s taxes, and ultimately distribute their property. Even a straightforward probate can quickly overwhelm a grieving family member, but our NYC estate planning lawyers can work with you to make the process easier. We understand how to efficiently navigate probate and can help you manage any complications or conflicts that arise.
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