STAGE OF LIFE PLANNING
We assist clients through all stages of life. Listed below are just a few of the more "basic" planning considerations, depending on your particular stage of life. To make sure that your affairs are in proper order, contact us to schedule a consultation so that we may fully review your current situation, discuss your particular planning wishes and goals, and make sure that you and your loved ones are fully protected.
PLANNING FOR INDIVIDUALS
Every adult (i.e., 18 years of age or older) should have, at least, a basic Life & Estate Plan which includes a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and Last Will & Testament. If you do not have properly executed advance directives in place that express your personal wishes and appoint trusted decision-makers (i.e., agents) to act on your behalf regarding health-related and property management decisions, and you suffer a serious injury or illness, then your fate could end-up in the hands of the court system; and, a judge will be charged with making these very important personal decisions for you. Furthermore, if you pass away without a Last Will & Testament (i.e., intestate), the laws of the state where you reside will determine what happens to your estate instead of you. So, if you don't already have a plan in place, call us today so that we may create a Life & Estate Plan that will ensure that you, rather than the court system, will control what happens to you and your property.
PLANNING FOR MARRIED COUPLES
Most couples believe that, because they are married, they automatically have the right to make health-related and financial decisions for each other in the event either spouse suffers a serious injury or illness. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Unless proper documentation is in place specifically granting each spouse the legal authority to make health-related and financial decisions for the other, the spouses will be prohibited from accessing each other's medical records, making medical decisions, and accessing each other's financial accounts to pay bills, etc. Therefore, it is important that married couples have a well-coordinated plan in place that legally authorizes them to carry out each other's wishes. If you're married, contact us today to review your plan and make sure that everything is properly set up so that you don't experience any unpleasant surprises if something should happen to you or your spouse.
PLANNING FOR PARENTS WITH YOUNG CHILDREN
It is important for parents with young children (i.e., under 18 years of age) to have a documented plan in place to provide for their young children in the event that something should happen to both parents. The critical considerations that should be addressed are: (1) who will become the primary caretakers (i.e., the legal guardians) of the children, and (2) who will manage your finances to provide for the daily needs of the children? If you don't have a specific, legal plan in place, the fate of your children will end up in the hands of the court system and a judge will be making these crucial, personal decisions for your children instead of you. If you're a parent with young children, call us today to discuss your wishes and make sure that there is a documented legal plan in place to provide for the care needs of your children in the event something should happen to both parents.
PLANNING FOR PARENTS WITH CHILDREN TURNING 18/HEADING TO COLLEGE
Up until your child turns 18, you are considered your child’s legal guardian. Until then, you are able to handle your child’s financial/tax matters, manage his/her credit card bills, speak with his/her doctors and, in the event of a medical emergency, make decisions regarding your child’s care. However, once your child turns 18, he/she becomes an “adult” in the eyes of the law and everything changes (i.e., you are no longer considered to be your child’s legal guardian). As a result, third parties such as financial institutions, credit card companies, doctors and hospitals will no longer speak or release information to you without first receiving your child’s consent. This could especially become problematic if your child is involved in an accident and becomes temporarily incapacitated – there would be no way for you to obtain that consent and you will likely be denied access to his/her medical information (due to HIPPA laws, etc.). In order to avoid such a troubling scenario, your child should consider setting up legal documents allowing you (or another trusted adult) to manage your child’s affairs if/when needed. If you have a child turning 18 or heading off to college, call us today to discuss the steps that should be taken to make sure that your child is fully protected.
PLANNING FOR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS
If you have a child or loved one with special needs (e.g., Autism, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, etc.), special planning should be undertaken to ensure that all of your child's care needs will be provided for while, at the same time, making sure that his/her ongoing eligibility for government benefits (e.g., Medicaid, Social Security Disability, etc.) will not be terminated or compromised in any way. If you have a child or loved one with special needs, contact us today to discuss the planning options that are available to protect and provide for all of your child's special care needs.
PLANNING FOR DIVORCEES
If you are divorced or in the process of getting divorced, it is important to revisit and update all your planning documents (e.g., Power of Attorney, Medical Directives, Last Will & Testament, etc.), update the title ownership on all your financial accounts, and update the beneficiary designations on your brokerage accounts, retirement accounts and insurance policies, etc. to reflect the change in your marital status. If you don't update your plan accordingly, it could result in unpleasant and unintended consequences such as your ex-spouse remaining as a beneficiary of your assets and/or your ex-spouse remaining in charge of making financial, property and health-related decisions on your behalf. If you are divorced or in the process of getting divorced, contact us so that we may make sure that your Life & Estate Plan is updated to reflect your latest wishes, and that all your property interests are fully protected.
PLANNING FOR RE-MARRIAGE & BLENDED FAMILIES
If you are re-married or have a blended family, it is crucial that you update your Life & Estate plan to account for your new family structure. For starters, at a minimum, new Advance Directives and Last Wills & Testaments should be prepared to reflect both your and your new spouse's wishes. In addition, you should consider executing a specially prepared Trust Agreement to ensure that your children from your previous marriage are not inadvertently disinherited from your estate if you predecease your new spouse. When it comes to estate planning, re-marriage and blended family situations pose many unexpected and hidden legal hazards. If you're re-married and/or have a blended family, contact us to review your Life & Estate Plan so that you may rest assured knowing that your wishes regarding your new spouse, and any biological children or step-children, will be carried out should something happen to you.
PLANNING FOR RETIREES & SENIORS
If you are in your retirement years, or nearing retirement, it is important to revisit your Life & Estate Plan to make sure that it will continue to be effective in carrying out your planning goals. Living on a fixed income while trying to afford the high cost of living can quickly erode the wealth you have accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. In addition, facing the prospect of increasing healthcare needs in the future could be extremely daunting. Therefore, you may wish to consider exploring whether certain asset preservation strategies such as obtaining long-term care insurance, establishing and funding a Trust, or changing title ownership on your home might make sense given the specifics of your situation. If you are a retiree, or nearing retirement, contact us today so that we may review your plan and discuss the options that are available to you for protecting your home, financial assets, and retirement accounts.
PLANNING FOR LOVED ONES IN NEED OF LONG-TERM CARE
If you have a loved one who requires long-term care, you are likely all-too-familiar with the high costs associated with in-home assistance, assisted living or skilled nursing care, which could cost upwards of $18,000 per month. Unfortunately, these exorbitant charges can quickly wipe out a lifetime of hard work and savings. Therefore, it is critical that you explore the possibility of establishing eligibility for medical benefits (i.e., home care or nursing home Medicaid), as well as taking steps to preserve as much of the applicant's assets and income as possible. If you have a loved one who requires long-term care, call us today to discuss the planning options that are available for preserving your loved one's assets and income while establishing eligibility for medical benefits at the earliest possible date.
PLANNING FOLLOWING THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE OR LOVED ONE
Following the death of a loved one, legal documents must be timely filed with the Surrogate's Court in order to initiate estate proceedings, set-up an estate account, collect the estate assets, pay any bills and debts, and eventually distribute the remaining estate assets to the estate beneficiaries, etc. Also, being that your loved one has predeceased you, it is important that you waste no time in re-visiting your Life & Estate Plan to make sure that the appropriate updates are made to your Advance Directives, Last Will & Testament (and Living Trust, if applicable), as well as updating the beneficiary designations on all your financial accounts, retirement plans and insurance policies in order to avoid any unintended or adverse consequences. We certainly understand that dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a very difficult and emotionally challenging time. However, we stand ready to help you. If you recently lost a spouse or loved one, contact us so that we may guide you through the complex maze of estate laws and assist you with making sure that your loved one's estate is correctly administered and your Life & Estate Plan is properly updated - so that, going forward, you may rest assured knowing that everything is in order and any unintended outcomes will be avoided.
No matter which stage of life you are in, the Law Offices of Michael J. Amoroso stands ready to assist you in navigating your Life & Estate Planning needs, ensuring that your health & personal wishes will be followed, and that all your property interests, including your home and financial assets, will be fully protected.
If you would like to attain peace of mind knowing that your personal affairs are in order and that your and your loved ones' future is secure, call us today at (914) 686-7272 to discuss your Life & Estate Planning wishes.