By Brian L. Miller, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP
In this current COVID-19 environment, we have seen an uptick in news articles about Do It Yourself Wills and Advance Directives. These articles are often written by journalists with little to no real world experience of probating a will or executing advance directives, or are targeting a national audience so cannot focus on an individual state’s nuances. Such articles favoring the Do It Yourself approach tend do a disservice to you and your loved ones, which usually costs you more in the long run. Over the years, we’ve lost count of the many times clients come into our office to probate a Will that is not valid, or seeking to help their loved one as the agent under a power of attorney, only to learn the document does not provide them with the powers they thought they had.
In these uncertain times, you should have, at a very minimum, the four following documents in place:
Power of Attorney: This legal document allows you to appoint an agent to handle issues that may arise while you are still alive, but become disabled, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to manage your financial affairs.
Health Care Proxy: This legal document allows you to appoint another individual as an agent, to make health care decisions on your behalf in the event you lose your decision making capacity or the ability to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of your health care decisions.
Living Will: This is a legal document in which you state your wishes regarding your future health care.
Last Will and Testament (a/k/a Will): This legal document that allows you to (1) leave your property and assets to your family, friends, charity, etc. as you desire; (2) choose your executor trix; (3) spare your estate the cost of having to pay for an administration bond; and (4) express your wishes as to whom you desire to be the guardian of your minor children and/or their property.
New York has stringent laws in place when it comes to the drafting and execution of aforementioned estate planning documents. In fact, each of these documents different requirements for their proper execution. If not properly prepared and/or executed, your DIY estate planning documents could be useless, and often more costly in the long run.
We are fortunate that the governor of New York has put in place measures to allow us to prepare and execute our client’s estate planning documents remotely. There is no need to meet in person, and we can safely have your estate planning documents prepared and executed properly without you having to leave your house. You simply need a telephone, tablet/iPad or computer with video capability, and the ability to send us a picture of the document you signed.
If you are one of the many that has not prepared your estate planning documents because you’ve been too busy, or haven’t had an opportunity to update your outdated estate planning documents, email or give us a call to schedule a telephone or video-conference consultation.