I'll take each document in-turn
Power of Attorney--if you become incapacitated, without this document in-place, your family members will have to petition the Surrogate's Court to become your Conservator in order to manage your finances. Cost of a Power of Attorney: $100 or so. Cost of a Conservatorship: $3,000 to $5,000, plus ongoing costs.
Health Care Proxy: if you become incapacitated, without this document in-place, your family members will have to petition the Surrogate's Court to become your Conservator in order to make your health care decisions. Cost of a Power of Attorney: $100 or so. As noted, the cost of a Conservatorship is $3,000 to $5,000, plus ongoing costs.
Will and Revocable Trust: Unless you own all of your assets jointly or with a beneficiary designation, your relatives will have to petition the Surrogate's Court to appoint an Administrator to manage your estate. The Administrator will have to follow New York intestacy law to determine the heirs who will receive your estate. Cost of a Will and Revocable Trust: $1,500 to $3,500, depending on your circumstances. Cost of Intestacy? $5,000 to $15,000, plus a distribution of your assets to heirs you may not care about.
In short, without proper planning, you will cost your family far more than what it will cost you to do proper estate planning with an experienced New York lawyer. Good luck to you.
This information is presented as a public service. It should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor considered to be the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. I am licensed in Connecticut and New York and my answers are based upon the law in those jurisdictions. My answer to any specific question would likely be different if I were to review a client's file and have the opportunity to interview the client. Accordingly, I strongly urge you to retain an attorney in your jurisdiction with respect to any legal matter.
I agree completely with with Mr. Pankowski. In addition, having estate planning documents allows you to determine the course of your health care and distribution of your assets rather than the State of New York deciding for you.
You are absolutely correct. You do not need to do those documents because the State of New York has statutes that will fill in the blanks of who has the right to make medical decisions for you and who gets your property when you die. Not very efficient, not cost effective, and certainly not personal, but it could get done. With that said, the statutory priority to act as your conservator/guardian require court appointment. Very costly if say you are in an accident and unconscious. Your parents (if you are an unmarried adult) or spouse (partner) if you are married (or in a committed relationship) dont have the right to make decisions for you. Similarly, when you die, your assets will pass by the laws of intestacy unless you have some probate substitute such as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship or beneficiary designations on your accounts. While those are inexpensive probate substitutes, they dont work well with contingencies.
In the end, you would be wise to invest in a properly drafted estate plan.
The general advice above does not constitute an attorney-client relationship: you haven't hired me or my firm or given me confidential information by posting on this public forum, and my answer on this public forum does not constitute attorney-client advice. IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: In order to comply with requirements imposed by the Internal Revenue Service, we inform you that any U.S. tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing, or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. While I am licensed to practice in New York and California, I do not actively practice in New York. Regardless, nothing said should be deemed an opinion of law of any state. All readers need to do their own research or pay an attorney for a legal opinion if one is necessary or desired.
Basic (but valid) forms can be found on the internet for free if you did not want to pay an attorney to do them....so ask yourself why you would not want to prepare such important documents if readily available and you have family members and/or any assets or income?
This is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of an attorney should be obtained.