The benefits of estate planning early with knowledgeable counsel

For individuals with aging family members, helping them prepare for the future involves more than just Medicaid planning. In fact, advisors recommend an estate planning process that involves not only the creation of a will, but also a living will or advance health care directive. For the elderly in New York and across the country, it's never too soon to begin planning, especially if the aging individual does not have a spouse.

One issue for consideration is a living will or advance health care directive. This document is important in situations when an elderly individual suffers an incapacitating illness or injury. Living wills typically dictate individuals' wishes for medical treatments and procedures they may wish to receive and which they want to forgo, such as prolonged life support in cases of coma.

A will is one of the most basic and most important parts of estate planning. Advisors advocate that anyone with any assets at all -- regardless of how many or of the monetary value -- should prepare a will and appoint an executor. Additionally, updating wills on an annual basis and whenever a major life event or change occurs, such divorce, births or deaths, is suggested.

Advisors recommend avoiding the cheap or free online legal services, as these may not hold up in court or are easily misinterpreted, frequently creating higher costs and stress in the long run. The initial upfront cost of securing the knowledgeable support of an experienced New York estate planning attorney is often far less expensive than the fees and charges that quickly begin to add up in a case involving documents that turn out to be invalid. Consulting a lawyer initially and taking full advantage of his or her legal prowess throughout the estate planning process can save both individuals and their families a lot of costly legal fees, time and stress later.

Source:, "The legal needs of aging parents", Katherine M. Johnson, Oct. 30, 2017

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