Many express a desire to leave specific items of personal property to loved ones in their Last Will and Testament. Whether or not their wishes will actually be fulfilled, however, depends on a variety of factors. Westchester County elder law attorney Lauren C. Enea, Esq. of Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP in Somers and White Plains, N.Y., recently shed light on effective strategies for gifting as part of an individual’s end-of-life planning.
“I have unfortunately seen family members spend thousands in legal fees disputing who gets dad’s motorcycle or mom’s silver – items of monetary as well as sentimental value,” said Lauren Enea. “There are a number of practical steps that can be taken to help ensure that this doesn’t happen – and that your wishes are followed.”
First, consider gifting items of special importance while you’re alive and still mentally competent. “As a client of mine once put it – a warm gift is much more enjoyable than a cold one,” said Ms. Enea. “Although not always possible, many situations lend themselves well to lifetime gifting.”
Another strategy is to specifically identify and bequeath the item of tangible personal property in a Last Will and Testament or Trust agreement that owns your home and its contents. “This will not only help identify the specific item and its recipient, but also segregates the item from other tangible property that one may be leaving to a larger group of individuals,” she noted.
“Lastly, consider utilizing a signed and dated letter or memorandum to outlines your wishes,” suggested Ms. Enea. “While this document is not legally binding in the State of New York, it will help guide one’s Executors, Trustees and loved ones as to whom one would like to receive each item of tangible property after one passes away.”
Admitted to practice law in New York and Florida, Ms. Enea concentrates her practice on Wills, Trusts and Estates, Medicaid Planning, Special Needs Planning and Probate/Estate Administration. She is a recipient of Westfair Communications’ 2019 Millennial Awardsand secretary of CAREERS Support Solutions’ Board of Directors, a non-profit helping individuals with disabilities obtain gainful employment in Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess Counties.
An active member of the local bar associations, Ms. Enea was appointed to the Executive Committee of the Westchester County Bar Association (WCBA) Trusts and Estates Section. She is also secretary of the WCBA New Lawyers Section, treasurer of the Columbian Lawyers Association of Westchester County, and sponsorship chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Elder Law and Special Needs Section Sponsorship Committee.
Enea, Scanlan & Sirignano, LLP is located at 245 Main Street in White Plains, N.Y. with additional offices in Somers, N.Y. While the firm is open for a select number of in-person meetings following New York State’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines, they continue to encourage telephone and video-conference meetings whenever possible. For more information or to schedule a consultation, call 914-948-1500 or visit 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 www.esslawfirm.com.