New York & New Jersey Estate Planning Attorney

Notary signs legal contract. Close up of fountain pen on paper

At Merlino & Gonzalez, we help individuals not just from Staten Island but from all parts of New York and New Jersey, create well-crafted estate plans that protect their assets and their loved ones. Our knowledgeable estate planning attorneys can help you learn about all the methods available to help you grow and protect your estate.

Not sure what an estate plan is or if it’s right for you? We’re here to let you know that it’s always a great option for anyone to explore, and we’d like to show you why that is.

What is Estate Planning?

For far too long, too many people have believed estate planning is reserved for the wealthiest of classes, because the word “estate” conjures images of mansions on hilltops and yachts in harbors. But the term “estate” simply refers to all the property and money an individual has accumulated during their lifetime—no matter how much of it there is.

Another common misconception about estate planning is that it’s only meant for the elderly. But the truth is, the earlier you begin considering your options in terms of savings, investments, and foundational documents, the greater control you will have over your future—no matter what age you are now.

The right financial plans can help you avoid excessive taxation, prepare for a well-funded retirement, and protect your family if you become seriously injured or ill. The younger you are when you begin working with one of our caring estate planning attorneys, the more likely it is that you will reach your financial goals during this life, but also leave the legacy you desire after you’ve lived it.

Services Our Staten Island and New Jersey Estate Planning Lawyers Provide

For over two decades, our capable attorneys have accomplished a variety of estate plans and preparations for hundreds of clients, including:

  • Helping them avoid probate by establishing living trusts, setting jointly owned properties with “right of survivorship,” creating retirement accounts with beneficiaries, and opening “payable on death” bank accounts. 
  • Drafting wills to designate their executor, beneficiaries, and guardians for any underage children, and to state final wishes regarding after-death arrangements. 
  • Dealing with probate, or the legal process of proving a will’s validity. 
  • Handling all the details of larger or more complicated estates.
  • Creating useful trusts for a variety of purposes.
  • Planning for business succession.
  • Helping to plan for a fulfilling retirement.
  • Making it possible for special-needs and/or incapacitated individuals to retain government benefits like Medicaid.  

Working with our dedicated estate planning attorneys will protect you from unnecessary costs, delays, and legal disputes. But most importantly, it’ll keep you from experiencing unnecessary stress throughout the process.

The Purposes of Trusts in Estate Planning

For many of our clients, creating trusts is a primary focus of their estate planning. If you’re not sure how you might benefit from creating trusts, we’ll help you understand the numerous purposes they can serve, including:

  • Avoiding the delays and expenses of probate.
  • Preserving privacy, because trusts—unlike wills—are not public documents.
  • Protecting assets from taxation and creditors.
  • Protecting assets from potential lawsuits, such as from someone slipping and falling on your property.
  • Retaining government benefits for special-needs or incapacitated loved ones.
  • Customizing the way trust money will be distributed, such as stipulating that the recipient must reach a certain age or finish college before claiming their inheritance.

The Broad Range of Trusts Available Through Our Staten Island and New Jersey Trust Attorneys

Our attorneys will advise you about the various trusts available and will always honestly and openly explain their advantages and limitations. You may be surprised about how many types of trusts there are, including:

  • Charitable trusts
  • Gift trusts
  • Pet trusts
  • IRA trusts
  • Gun trusts
  • Marital trusts
  • Generation-skipping trusts
  • Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT)
  • Qualified Terminable Interest Property (QTIP) Trusts
  • Special needs trusts
  • Spendthrift trusts
  • Trusts for minors

Each type of trust performs a specific function. For example, a spendthrift trust ensures that a family member who has problems with money management or overspending will only receive money when the trustee deems it necessary. This can help protect beneficiaries from themselves and keep them from going through their inheritance too quickly.

Whichever type of trust is best for you, our team will make sure it’s specifically designed to meet your precise needs, and that it’s well-structured and legally binding.

Preparing for Incapacity

Life can take unexpected turns. Accidents, illnesses, and other events can leave you incapacitated and your family vulnerable if you haven’t put the proper planning in place. The proactive estate planning attorneys at Merlino & Gonzalez can prepare you and your family to better face any potential downturns life may throw at you.

Creating proper legal documents like the following will provide the protective shield your family might need if you become incapacitated:

  • Conservatorship
  • Guardianship
  • Power of Attorney
  • HIPAA Authorization
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Living Will (including organ donations)
  • Business Succession Plan

All these options may seem overwhelming to you now, but our team has a long history of helping families determine the best way to choose and execute the right safety nets like these. By taking these steps, you can better ensure that:

  • Your minor children will be taken care of if you can longer care for them yourself.
  • Your financial and legal matters will be taken over by the person you designate.
  • Your chosen Health Care Proxy will make the right medical decisions for you if you’re unable to do so.
  • Your designated loved ones will be kept informed about your health status and prognoses.
  • You will receive only the medical interventions you have requested at the end of your life.
  • Your business, if you have one, will be dealt with as you planned and prefer.

Contact Our Experienced Staten Island and New Jersey Estate Planning Attorneys Today!

Our legal team understands that life is never static. So once we’ve helped you plan your estate, you can count on us to be vigilant about reviewing and maintaining your plan regularly. We know how much can happen in a short time—marriage, birth, adoption, divorce, and death. And we also know how much these kinds of events can change your wishes and plans for the future. So let us help you keep on top of all the planning you need as these changes happen. We’re committed to helping all our clients for as long as they need our services, and look forward to helping you shape a promising future. Contact us today so we can get started.

Merlino & Gonzalez help residents of New York & New Jersey with their estate planning needs. Since their primary office is in Staten Island, they receive a lot of clients there as well as in the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, & The Bronx.