For most New Yorkers, having a Last Will and Testament is ubiquitous. As one ages, it is not unusual for the topic of a conversation to be whether one has signed their Last Will. Unfortunately, what is often missing from the conversation is that a Last Will only controls assets held by an individual in his or her name alone at the time of his or her death (not jointly held assets or assets with named beneficiaries), and that for the Last Will to be effective as to those assets, it must admitted to Probate in the Surrogate's Court of the County where the decedent resided.
One only needs to observe life's daily interactions to conclude that pets have become an integral part of the lives of many. It is virtually impossible to go to a mall or airport without encountering someone who has a pet or two in tow. In Westchester County, the importance of pets has been readily apparent for over a century. For almost 120 years, Hartsdale has been the home of what is now recognized as the oldest pet cemetery in the nation. Thus, the question most pet owners' face is what steps they can undertake to ensure that their pet or other domestic animal is properly provided for in the event of their demise.
Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP recently addressed the importance of long-term care planning in an educational program to the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce. With millions of baby boomers coming of age, Mr. Enea urges those in or approaching their elder years to take a proactive role in planning for the future.
As it becomes more and more apparent that we are living in an increasingly dangerous world, one of the most difficult and often contentious decisions parents of minor children will need to make is who will be the standby guardian(s) of their minor children in the event of their demise. While the possibility of that occurring is not something one wants to dwell upon, it is an important issue that parents need address.
Although formulating an estate and long term care plan is an important step towards financial security, many people fail to have even the most basic plan and advanced directives. One potential hurdle is a fear of putting together a poor plan. Having a basic understanding of these common mistakes can help reduce the risk of making some unfortunate errors. The following are examples of the most common errors made:
One question I am often asked is how to contest (or challenge) a last will & testament. While challenging a last will is not something to be done lightly, there are specific instances in which a will contest would be appropriate. In order for a last will to be deemed valid and legally enforceable in New York State, it must first be admitted into probate by the Surrogate's Court where the deceased resided. Once this process begins, individuals with a pecuniary interest (those who stand benefit monetarily from the last will) have the opportunity to formally challenge the document's validity. This includes named beneficiaries in a previous will and/or heirs at law. Once it has been established that an individual does have a pecuniary interest, he or she may formally challenge the last will by filing an objection with the Surrogate's Court. In New York, the grounds for objecting to the admission of the last will & testament to probate are:
One question I am often asked is the difference between a Last Will & Testament and a Revocable Living Trust. While many simply default to a Last Will as their primary estate planning document, the Revocable Living Trust has been gaining significantly in popularity over the past several years. Here are the basics on both: