ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Not having an estate plan can create problems for the people you love the most. Accountant Jamie Block discussed some of the key aspects of an estate plan in New York.
Block said there are a few documents that individuals should have. The main ones are a will, power of attorney, and health care proxy. “A will dictates who is in charge, to pay off debts, determine where any remaining assets go, and who will receive custody of any minor children,” she said.
A power of attorney is a form that gives authority to your agent to act on your behalf. “It can be active once you sign it or when you are determined to be incompetent,” Block explained. “The agent can act on your behalf such as paying your bills and keep your household running if you were to become incapacitated. Note that once someone passes, a power of attorney is no longer valid.”
The other component is a health care proxy. “The person you chose as your health care proxy will make medical decisions on your behalf if you aren’t able to make decisions yourself. This would include things such as whether surgery is performed, or the proverbial plug is pulled. NYS also has a form called MOLST – medical order of life-sustaining treatment.”
Block said you should review your beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and your estate planning documents every couple of years or when there is a life event such as a death, birth, marriage, or divorce. She drew a distinction when it comes to a trust versus a will.
“A revocable living trust and a will can do the same things that we just discussed. However, a will is a public document while a trust is private. A revocable trust uses your social security number and is reported on your own personal tax return. Typically there is an additional charge by attorneys to draft a revocable living trust versus a will.”
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