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With estate plan, peace of mind is a legacy

Debbie Verni, attorney at Herzog Law Firm

Debbie Verni, attorney at Herzog Law Firm


No one knows what tomorrow brings.

That’s why Herzog Law Firm believes “sooner is better than later” in preparing an estate plan.

To aid potential clients who get cold feet when facing the business end of life’s arrangements, attorney Debbie Verni offers insight into the process.

Herzog Law Firm offers free seminars that offer information  to the general public, as shown in top photo, as well as private consultations.

The first individual consultation in estate, health care proxy and will planning is free, said Verni. At that time, a questionnaire to personalize the client’s needs is provided. That information includes what assets you have, beneficiaries, family and personal needs, life insurance provisions, savings and income — basically, a snapshot of who you are, financially, and where you want your estate to go.

People have to think about who they need to take care of, Verni says, and who can actually carry out your wishes, or wants to. Executing your will isn’t an automatic function of appointing your oldest child, for example, but a matter of capability.

That also applies to the health care proxy. You want a person who will follow your wishes, and not be squeamish about final decisions.

For the power of attorney, make sure the person you choose has an ability to make financial decisions, not one who can’t balance a checkbook. You need someone you trust, not someone in financial trouble, for example, who might use your money to pay their bills, says Verni.

If you are wondering about which papers to gather for estate planning, Verni says you can bring deed, clear title, and life insurance papers, or simply fill out the questionnaire and proceed from there.

There’s a lot of talk about trusts. Some attorneys say a will is passe. At Herzog Law Firm, Verni says, trusts are prepared with a will as a backup in case you revoke or change your trust, so your assets are cared for.

With online access to a vast world of information, people may ask why go to a law firm instead of using an online kit for making that will.

Individual tailoring is what will work best for you, says Verni. A lawyer asks pertinent questions that an online form won’t address, considers medical needs, kids’ needs, longevity factors, and explores who needs to be taken care of and special requirements of individuals. Lawyers can assess what plan meets your needs based on assets, and raise flags about hurdles that always seem to arise, such as the often-overlooked appointment of a beneficiary on savings accounts or IRAs.

With the internet, more people have done their homework, Verni finds, but there is a lot of information out there, as well as people comparing notes who might not have similar circumstances. No one principle applies to all; your friend’s plan may not be what you need. Again, a lawyer is trained to assess your individual requirements.

Sometimes, an attorney is needed to straighten out the results of an online will. You don’t want to leave a family in that situation, she says. Or heirs may need advice when rude awakenings await, such as when kids find their parents were deeply debt. Not all occurrences are unpleasant, of course; many times, a neighbor or charities are unexpectedly named in wills, or kids are surprised at what amounts their parents have amassed. A lawyer’s knowledge and experience can be a comforting assurance at a time often filled with sadness and stress. Peace of mind is priceless.

As you gather up your thoughts and courage to tackle your estate plans, Verni offers a last piece of advice: Go to a law firm that specialized in estate planning. You wouldn’t go to an ophthalmologist for heart surgery, she says.

— Gloria Mazure, Eldercare Resources

To contact Herzog Law Firm, located at 7 Southwoods Blvd., Albany, N.Y., 12211, call Debbie A. Verni, 465-7581; or Pam Clark, Medicaid paralegal, at 465-7581, Ext. 137. Visit http://www.herzoglaw.com/contact.html or http://www.ECRcapitalregion.com/.

Attorneys Harry Miller and Debbie Verni field questions Saturday mornings on the radio, 590 AM.

Attorneys Harry Miller and Debbie Verni field questions Saturday mornings on the radio, 590 AM.

Got a Quick Question?
Tune in to attorneys Debbie Verni and Harry Miller for The Estate and Medicaid Planning Hour from 8 to 9 a.m. Saturdays on Magic 590 AM. In addition to phoned-in questions, they can now receive your emails at radio@herzoglaw.com. The show is  available online at http://albanymagic.com.

To attend upcoming Herzog seminars, register now:

Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014, at 10 a.m.
Event: Estate and Medicaid Planning Seminar
Place: Berkshire Bank Community Room, Vly Road, Colonie, N.Y.

Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.
Event: Estate and Medicaid Planning Seminar
Place: Glen Sanders Mansion, Scotia. N.Y.

Date: Thursday, June 19, 2014, at 2 p.m.
Event: Estate and Medicaid Planning Seminar
Place: Hampton Inn, Clifton Park, N.Y.

Gloria Mazure

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Boomer & Senior Resources is dedicated to empowering area seniors, their caregivers and healthcare professionals to obtain the knowledge and resources needed to provide quality care for an aging relative, friend or patient.

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