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Estate Planning Terms to Know

Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC April 29, 2022

Having well-detailed estate planning documents is crucial to provide specific instructions about how you want your final affairs to be settled when you're no more. Whether you have a small or large estate, you and your loved ones can benefit from creating an estate plan. A knowledgeable New York State estate planning attorney can enlighten you about some important estate planning terms you should know and help you navigate crucial decisions.

Text estate planning on notepadWith over 48 years of extensive experience, I'm committed to offering outstanding legal services and reliable advocacy to clients in estate planning-related matters, including wills, trusts, probate, power of attorney, probate, and estate administration. I'm available to discuss your unique situation and enlighten you about the importance of estate planning, as well as some important terms to know. My firm is proud to serve clients across Long Island, Bellmore, Suffolk County, and Nassau County, New York.

Why Estate Planning is Important

Estate planning involves making a comprehensive plan in advance about who will receive your property and how assets should be transferred to beneficiaries and heirs when you're gone or after sudden incapacitation. Here are some reasons why estate planning is important:

  • It helps protect your assets and property.

  • It allows you to name your personal representative or trustee.

  • It helps you make adequate provisions for your surviving family members.

  • It affords you complete control regarding who inherits certain assets.

  • It helps you protect minor children.

  • It helps beneficiaries and heirs avoid or reduce estate, inheritance, and gift taxes.

  • It helps reduce the amount of taxes on your estate.

  • It helps mitigate disputes or conflicts between family members over asset distribution.

  • It protects your assets and property from creditors and frivolous lawsuits.

  • It helps your estate and loved ones avoid the costly and lengthy probate process.

  • It protects you from dying “intestate” (without a will).

A knowledgeable attorney can enlighten you about how estate planning works in New York State and some important terms you should know.

Important Terms to Know

Knowing the terms used in estate planning is important to understand the process. Here are some common terms used in New York State estate planning matters:

  • Estate: The total amount of assets, property, liabilities, and debts accrued by an individual at the time of their death.

  • Decedent: A person who has died – a deceased person.

  • Probate: Probate is a court-supervised process required to determine the validity of a will and to settle the deceased person's final affairs. It involves gathering and evaluating assets and property, paying taxes and debts, and transferring remaining assets to rightful beneficiaries.

  • Intestate: The situation whereby a person dies without a valid will. Thus, the deceased person’s estate will be distributed to heirs in accordance with New York State's intestate succession laws.

  • Trust: A trust is a fiduciary relationship whereby a person (trustor or grantor) appoints another person (trustee or successor trustee) to manage and distribute assets placed in the trust to beneficiaries upon their death or sudden incapacitation.

  • Will: A legal document containing comprehensive instructions about a person's (testator) legal and financial wishes and how their estate should be administered or how assets should be distributed to inheritors after their death.

  • Beneficiary: A person who receives benefits of property from an estate, trust, will, or other legal contracts.

  • Executor: A person named in a will – or appointed by the probate court – to administer the decedent's estate in accordance with the terms of the will.

  • Advance Healthcare Directive: An advance directive is a legal document that allows you (the principal) to make decisions about your preferred medical care, procedures, and treatments in advance if you become critically ill, disabled, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to make such medical decisions by yourself.

  • Powers of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that gives a person (the attorney-in-fact or agent) the duty and power to act on behalf of someone else (the principal) in financial, healthcare, property, tax, and legal matters.

  • Guardianship: Guardianship is a legal relationship created by state law, whereby a court grants a person (legal guardian) the legal right, duty, and power to make decisions for another person. The legal guardian can make crucial decisions about the health and well-being of the minor child or incapacitated adult.

  • Conservatorship: A conservatorship is a legal arrangement whereby a court appoints a responsible person (conservator) to help manage the property and financial affairs of a minor child or incapacitated adult. In New York, a conservatorship is similar to guardianship, but conservatorship only deals with financial matters.

Get the Skilled Legal Representation You Need

Planning for an uncertain future can never be too early. Should you become disabled, incapacitated, severely ill, unavailable, or otherwise unable to voice your opinion, your surviving loved ones can benefit and achieve peace of mind from knowing your exact wishes. A highly-skilled estate planning attorney can explore your various legal options and help you make intelligent decisions.

At Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC, I have the experience, knowledge, and diligence to guide and advise individuals, families, and fiduciaries in the legal matters of estate planning. As your attorney, I can help you understand how the estate planning process works and determine the right estate plan that best suits your unique needs.

Additionally, I can help draft important estate planning documents, including wills, trusts, power of attorney, and advanced directives. I will craft a strategic plan to protect your assets, property, investments, and interests. Also, I will work diligently to address your needs and concerns and help you achieve your goals of transferring your assets and property to your surviving loved ones.

Establishing a detailed estate plan can help protect your assets and prepare for life's uncertainties. Contact my firm – Lawrence M. Gordon, Attorney at Law, PC – today to schedule a simple consultation with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer. My firm is proud to serve clients across Long Island, Bellmore, Suffolk County, and Nassau County, New York.