Queens Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Student loans after death

As many students pursue their education in New York, they may accumulate debt in the form of student loans. A previous blog discussed what might happen if someone dies while he or she is still in debt. This week's blog will focus on student loans after a person's death. 

The type of loans a student has determines what happens to this debt after death. According to Federal Student Aid, people usually do not need to repay federal student loans if someone dies. People typically need to submit proof that the person who took out the loan died. This can include either a copy of the death certificate or the original document. Sometimes a parent may take out loans for his or her child's education. If this parent dies before repaying this debt, these federal student loans are also generally discharged.

Estate planning could avoid will contests

The aging population of New York is virtually beset upon by messages about how and where to direct estate funds. Sometimes, that persuasion comes from personal acquaintances or family members as well. Here at the office of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we often see wills that we suspect were directed, at least in part, by this preponderance of over-generalized or unethical advice.

If you were to lose a loved one while he or she was under the influence of these forces, the condition of the estate could be far from what you expect. You would often have only a few alternatives in these types of situations, such as forming an attempt to contest the will. 

What happens to debt when someone dies?

When you live in New York and someone gives you the responsibility of handling his or her affairs after he or she passes, you will need to take certain steps to do so while you manage your loved one’s estate. This might include paying off debts, making distributions to beneficiaries and so on, but what happens when the person who dies leaves considerable debt behind?

According to U.S. News & World Report, one out of every five Americans has credit card debt he or she believes he or she will never be able to pay off, and that means more and more U.S. residents are dying without covering their debts. If your loved one had enough to cover those debts tied up in other assets, it should not be difficult to pay that debt off, but when someone dies with debt he or she cannot cover, what happens next depends on the type of debt accrued.

5 mistakes estate executors must avoid

As the executor of an estate, you're staffed with more responsibilities than you probably realize. By taking a high level overview of the situation early on, you'll soon understand what you're up against and how to move through the process in an efficient manner.

The one thing you never want to do is make a costly mistake. Fortunately, when you protect against these in advance, there's less chance of running into trouble.

How guardianships and conservatorships differ

As a resident of New York who is watching your parents age, you may have firsthand knowledge of just how difficult it can be to do so. Watching your parents grow older can prove even more difficult when one of them starts suffering physical or mental hardships, as some conditions can make it increasingly tough for your parents to make sound decisions and otherwise care for themselves. At the law office of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we are familiar with the types of circumstances that may lead you to consider a guardianship or conservatorship over an aging parent or other loved one. We have helped many clients facing similar situations find long-term solutions that meet their needs.

According to the Motley Fool, guardianships and conservatorships are similar to each other in that they both involve giving someone decision-making power over someone else who is unable to manage their own affairs. There are, however, some key distinctions between the two, and understanding how they differ may help you determine whether a guardianship or conservatorship may better suit you and your family’s unique needs.

Coordinating a long-term care plan that people understand

Long-term care planning is not generally a topic that people in New York are itching to discuss with their loved ones. Often, the people who will need it the soonest, may not recognize how critical planning ahead actually is. They may also neglect to clearly define their expectations to those who they want to participate in their care. Likewise, the people listed in another person's long-term care plan may have an inaccurate understanding of their responsibilities or be unfamiliar with where to find critical documents that disclose vital information. 

When families have a loved one who is getting close to needing a reliable long-term care plan, it is essential that they work together to coordinate something that is understood by all of the parties involved. According to Money, many children of aging adult parents say they have never had a conversation with their parents about a long-term care plan even though 69 percent of those parents say they have had that discussion with their children. This disconnect can lead to disappointment, confusion and contention if there are misunderstandings when the time comes that the long-term care plan is needing to be put to use. 

How is a power of attorney different from a living will?

New York estate planning experts often recommend that you establish both a power of attorney and a living will. The two documents are similar to one another in that they both pertain to end-of-life issues and how your health care will proceed in the event that you become incapacitated and are unable to make such decisions for yourself. 

According to FindLaw, when you give someone a power of attorney, you authorize that person to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. You may choose to set limits on your power of attorney, allowing your attorney-in-fact to make only certain decisions in regard to your medical care, or you can grant them broad authority to handle any issue that arises in regard to your end-of-life decisions. While individual documents may vary, the decision powers typically granted to someone with a power of attorney include the ability to make decisions in regard to the following:

  • Doctors you can see
  • Medical facilities where you can receive treatment
  • Going to court over what medical treatment you will receive
  • Handling of your body following your death

What is undue influence?

One of the common reasons why people contest a will in New York is for undue influence. According to the American Bar Association, undue influence is psychological abuse and why there is no one standard definition, it is typically considered any acts of manipulation that forces a person to take or not take a certain action.

This type of manipulation may often involve excessive persuasion. It usually means one person is taking away the free will of the other person. Finally, the results of the undue influence usually result in an unfair situation. This is especially true when it comes to wills since this manipulation could end up cutting others out of the will who rightfully have a claim.

Should an estate executor proceed quickly?

After the death of a New York resident, it is incumbent upon the executor of the estate to oversee the assets of the deceased until the estate goes through probate and the assets are ready to be distributed to the heirs. Some executors may want to pass along the assets as quickly as possible. However, there are important reasons not to rush matters when it comes to overseeing an estate.

As Bankrate points out, as an executor, you have legal responsibilities to carry out. You might overlook important legal steps if you rush the process. At best, you could delay the probate process a little. However, at worst you could be held personally liable if the missteps are severe enough. If anything should happen to the assets of the estate or if there is mismanagement of the estate, it could give the heirs cause to challenge the executor’s fitness in court.

Proper estate planning helps avoid family disputes

From time to time, a celebrity with a vast estate passes away without a will or proper plan to distribute their assets. This thrusts their family into a potential minefield. Without making their wishes known in a will, they leave it up to the state to seize their assets and distribute them to survivors according to probate guidelines.

Even those who support the probate process must admit that it is far less personal and considerate than a will, which lays out who specifically receives certain property. Even if the deceased person told family members they would receive this or that from the estate, the probate process does not consider this legally biding and will not honor it.

Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C.
17026 Cedarcroft Road
Jamaica, New York 11432

Phone: 347-395-4799
Fax: 718-701-3726
Map & Directions

Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C.