Frequently Asked Questions About Estate Planning in New York
Answers to your questions from Kingston, NY trust and estate lawyers
At Cook, Netter, Cloonan, Kurtz & Murphy, P.C., we know that you have questions about estate planning, wills and probate. We have been providing estate planning to residents of Ulster County for more than 100 years. Our estate planning attorneys are pleased to provide answers to some of the questions you may have:
- What happens if I die without a will?
- Why should I use an attorney to draft my will?
- How often should a will be updated?
- What is the five-year Medicaid look-back period?
- Is it necessary for me to use the lawyer who drafted the will to probate the estate?
Consultation on any estate planning or probate matter
Contact Cook, Netter, Cloonan, Kurtz & Murphy, P.C. for detailed answers to your estate planning and probate questions and concerns. Our lawyers and staff are courteous and strive to provide you with the best possible representation and advice. Call us at 845-943-2498 or contact us online for a consultation. We are located in Kingston just one block from the Ulster County Courthouse in the Old Dutch Church neighborhood, and we offer weekend and evening appointments as needed.
When a person dies without a will, state law determines who gets the decedent’s estate. Usually the spouse and children take the estate when no will is available. If the person who died had no spouse or children, then the estate goes to the parents, and then to brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles and aunts and then cousins. If the person has no close relatives, then the property goes to the state of New York.
While the law does not require your will to be drafted by an attorney, wills drafted by non-attorneys tend to be incomplete and often invalid under New York law. Legal requirements must be followed for the will to be a valid will. To be sure your desires are followed upon your death and the disbursements you plan are carried out, use a knowledgeable New York estate planning attorney.
Your will should be changed whenever a milestone is reached in your life or your life circumstances change, such as the birth of a child, a child reaches majority, divorce, a change in financial status or the inheritance of property. As you age, your planning priorities switch from protecting your children to protecting your assets, such as planning for nursing home care, while at the same time preserving your property through trusts and appropriate gift giving and transfers. You should plan in advance for these changes.
When you apply for Medicaid, the state of New York looks back five years from the date you applied for Medicaid to analyze all gifts you made and all transfers of assets to determine how long you need to wait for Medicaid eligibility. If you transferred gifts or other assets for less than fair market value during the five-year look-back period, your eligibility for Medicaid and its nursing home benefits can be delayed. You should consult with an experienced New York estate planning attorney for appropriate Medicaid planning so that your Medicaid is not unnecessarily delayed.
You should use an experienced probate attorney with whom you feel comfortable working and trust to do a good job on the estate. You do not need to use the lawyer who drafted the decedent’s will or prepared the decedent’s estate plan. Our estate planning lawyers in Kingston, NY are well qualified to probate any estate of any size.