Westchester County Elder Law Attorney Anthony J. Enea Addresses the Importance of a Last Will and Testament

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According to a recent survey by Caring.com, only 42 percent of American adults have estate planning documents in place, leaving more than half without a last will and testament. Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, member at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y., recently shed light on the importance of a last will and testament including the potential negative implications that can be avoided if one is in effect.

Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, member, Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP

It isn’t unusual for someone in their 20s, 30s or even 40s to neglect having a last will. Many don’t believe it is necessary at their age. Others say they haven’t had time to get around to it. Unfortunately, neither reason is very good.

According to a recent survey by Caring.com, only 42 percent of American adults have estate planning documents in place, leaving more than half without a last will and testament. Westchester elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea, member at Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in White Plains and Somers, N.Y., recently shed light on the importance of a last will and testament including the potential negative implications that can be avoided if one is in effect.

A last will and testament is a legal document that allows an individual to specify how (and to whom) his or her assets are to be distributed when they pass away. The document also outlines who will be responsible to carry out his or her wishes. While a last will does not control jointly held assets, if a spouse passes away with assets in his or her name alone and no named beneficiary, the absence of a last will can have significant negative consequences.

“It isn’t unusual for someone in their 20s, 30s or even 40s to neglect having a last will,” said Anthony Enea, who has spent 30 years protecting the rights of seniors, the disabled and their families. “Many don’t believe it is necessary at their age. Others say they haven’t had time to get around to it. Unfortunately, neither reason is very good.”

Enea believes that every adult, whether they are married, single, have children, or don’t have children, can benefit from executing a last will and testament. “Without a last will, your estate may very well pass to family members that you do not wish to receive assets. Those who inherit will depend on your marital status and the different categories of surviving family members – spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, etc. In this scenario, virtually anyone can apply to be the administrator of your estate, which could result in competing petitioners.”

When it comes to minor children, not having a last will limits the opportunity to nominate specific individuals to be legal guardians should both parents pass away. In addition, children will be legally entitled to estate assets upon reaching the age of 18. In a will, however, it is possible to include a trust provision that would allow terms and conditions to be specified for the distribution of estate assets to children.

“A last will with trust provisions can delineate the reasons for utilizing the funds, such as for health, education, maintenance, and support,” said Enea. “Perhaps most importantly, you can note the age or ages that you would like your children to receive assets outright, or specify that the assets remain in the trust for the child’s benefit during his or her lifetime.”

A strong leader in Westchester’s legal community, Mr. Enea is president of the Westchester County Bar Foundation, a past president of the Westchester County Bar Association, and a past chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section. He was named Westchester County’s Leading Elder Care Attorney at the Above the Bar Awards and Best Lawyers’ 2018 Elder Law “Lawyer of the Year” in White Plains. Mr. Enea’s practice areas include elder law; Medicaid asset protection trusts; Medicaid applications (home care and nursing home); special needs planning; guardianships (Article 81 and 17-A); and wills, trusts and estates.

Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. Elder law attorney Anthony J. Enea can be reached at 914-948-1500 or a.enea@esslawfirm.com. For the latest news, visit Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano online at http://www.esslawfirm.com.

About Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is an AV preeminent rated elder law firm with offices in White Plains and Somers, N.Y. The practice concentrates on Elder Law; Medicaid Planning; Nursing Home and Home Care Applications; Wills, Trusts and Estates; Guardianships; Estate Litigation; Supplemental Needs Trusts; and Special Needs Planning. Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP serves Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, the Bronx, Manhattan, Long Island and Queens and is committed to providing the highest quality legal services to seniors, the disabled and their families. Visit the firm online at http://www.esslawfirm.com.

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