Which Legal Documents Are Essential for My New York Estate Plan? | Best Estate Planning
We help you achieve a peace of mind
and a better future.

Which Legal Documents Are Essential for My New York Estate Plan?

Latest News

This question is common for many New Yorkers creating an estate plan. The answer is that it depends. An experienced Brooklyn estate planning attorney can advise you or a loved one on which documents are necessary to legally protect your New York assets. Your estate plan may include a mix of different legal documents, such as:

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament in New York, also referred to as simply a Will defines who will be the personal representative of your estate, that is, who will manage the New York estate, pay debts, and distribute the property as specified. This legal document instructs the personal representative, an Executor, as to the distribution of assets. In New York, a last will and testament can be as general or detailed as a person wishes it to be, but this legal document will go through Surrogate’s Court.


Trusts in New York are another way to give instructions for the distribution of specific assets or pieces of property. The benefit of a trust is that, unlike a will, it does not require administration through New York Surrogate’s Court. Just as with a will, the property distribution occurs at the trust s maker’s death.  In a trust, because the property is “held in trust,” there is no need for court involvement to transfer property in New York and Brooklyn.

Living Will

This document outlines a person’s wishes for end-of-life medical care in New York. It can include wishes regarding what medical treatments the person would or would not like to have in specific situations. A living will in New York takes the stress of making those decisions off family members and helps keep peace in families during times that can be difficult and emotional.

Powers of Attorney

Powers of attorney are critical parts of a New York estate plan. The two legal documents can include a healthcare power of attorney, known in New York as Health Care Proxy, and financial power of attorney, or simply Power of Attorney in New York, which designates an individual to act as your agent. An agent under a power of attorney makes decisions related to financial matters, and an agent under the Health Care Proxy can legally make healthcare decisions on your behalf in the state of New York.

Health Care Proxy

Like a living will, a Health Care Proxy is a document that helps address your wishes for your health care needs through an appointed representative in New York. This legal document allows you to name a person as an agent to make medical decisions if you are incapacitated.

Letter of Intent

A letter of intent in New York conveys essential information about personal and financial matters in combination with other legal documents in your estate plan. A letter of intent is not legally binding and does not replace a will or trust, but it is an excellent document to include in your estate plan. A letter of intent can also serve as instructions for a future guardian of minor children or a loved one with special needs in New York.

Guardianship Designation

A New York guardian is an individual that has a legal appointment to oversee the care and protection of another individual or property for a person who is no longer capable of doing so on their own. Guardian appointments are most often  designates to care for minor children in New York. But it is possible to have guardianship designation for a physically or mentally disabled person.

Your specific estate plan and the legal documents within depend on many factors, including the size and structure of your New York estate and your unique wishes for your personal assets. Working with an experienced New York and Brooklyn estate planning lawyer, like Vlad Portnoy, Esq., can help you select and prepare the necessary documents for your estate plan.

Your Russian Speaking Estate Planning Attorneys in Manhattan, NY and Brooklyn, NY

Vlad Portnoy can navigate you or a loved one on the path of asset protection with a unique estate plan. Our Russian speaking attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn bring compassion and personal care to every legal matter for the Russian community. Our Manhattan and Brooklyn law firm has a foundation of strong client relationships, and we work hard to meet your estate planning goals.

Our law firm has been helping New Yorkers, residents of Northern New Jersey like you, and the Russian community, navigate the complicated world of New York estate planning for years. From the most straightforward wills to the most complicated trusts, we have seen it all and will be able to use that experience to tailor the perfect legal structure for your situation to guard your wishes with an estate plan.

Related Articles