Wills, Trusts & Estates  

    The importance of having your financial affairs in order regardless of what phase of life you are in cannot be overstated. We know from day to day life experience that planning in advance for unforeseen occurrences is the best way to protect our family and loved ones.

    The Benefits of Having a Last Will and Testament:

    • A Last Will and Testament will permit you to decide how you want your assets distributed at the time of your death and who you wish to control those assets. If you die without a Last Will and Testament, then you are said to have died “intestate” and the New York Laws of Intestacy will determine who will inherit your assets and who will be appointed to administer your estate.

    • If you are married and have minor children you can include guardianship provisions in your will which will help alleviate your concerns about who will raise your children and who will attend to their financial needs in the event of your untimely demise.

    • If you have a disabled or incapacitated adult (such as an adult child) who you want to provide for, you can direct in your will that a Supplemental Needs Trust be established for his or her benefit upon your demise. The purpose of this trust is to hold assets for the disabled child’s benefit to be used as supplemental funds for his/her care, education, maintenance and support, without jeopardizing your adult child’s governmental benefits such as Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The advantage of setting up this SNT under your Last Will and Testament is to ensure that your disabled, adult child is taken care of as you would like without having to rely on the “promises” of your other children or relatives.

    The Advantages and Disadvantages of Revocable and Irrevocable Trusts:

    Mary Jane McPherson receives many phone calls about revocable trusts, irrevocable trusts, insurance trusts, Medicaid trusts and various other trusts that are utilized in the estate planning process; often the potential client has been misinformed as to the purpose of these trusts and what they can accomplish. Only by meeting with an attorney who is familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of the various trusts, who takes the time to listen to your concerns, understands the scope of your assets and what you are trying to accomplish can that attorney help you to reach the right decision in regard to your estate planning and whether a trust is right for you, and, if so, what type of trust.

    Suffice it to say that Revocable Trusts do not protect your assets from Medicaid claims should you have to enter a nursing home, however, an Irrevocable Trust can protect your assets from Medicaid claims providing you move your assets into the Trust at least five (5) years before you require institutionalized nursing home care. As to Revocable Trusts, you as the creator of the trust can amend it, move assets freely into and out of the trust and revoke it. This is not true with Irrevocable Trusts, in fact the opposite is true because you as the creator of the trust, cannot amend it, move assets freely into and out of the trust, or unilaterally revoke it.

    The New York State Durable Power of Attorney Form:

    This document permits you to appoint someone as your agent to make financial decisions for you and to manage your personal and business affairs in the event that you are unable to do so because of logistics (not convenient for you to do so), or because you are suffering from physical or mental incapacity. In September of 2009/2010 New York State’s new Durable Power of Attorney (POA) was enacted into law and it is very extensive in nature. This new POA gives the person creating it (the principal) the option to sign a Statutory Gift Rider, as part and parcel of that form. The Statutory Gift Rider provides your appointee (your agent) with gifting powers that you can curtail or expand on depending on your personal preference and the purpose behind the gifting powers, or you can simply decide not to incorporate the Statutory Gift Rider into your POA at all.

    The Health Care Proxy:

    A Health Proxy is a document that permits you to appoint an agent to make medical and health care decisions for you if you unable to communicate your wishes to your doctor or other health care providers because of temporary or permanent mental impairment. This document permits you to name not only a primary agent but also alternate agents to speak on your behalf. If you do not have a Health Proxy and a medical emergency arises whereby you are mentally incapacitated and unable to communicate, then under the Family Heath Care Decisions Act (FHCDA) enacted in New York State in 2010, the court will appoint a surrogate or guardian to make medical and health care decisions for you.

    The agent who you named in your Health Care Proxy does not have the power to withhold and withdraw life sustaining treatments such as mechanical respiration, cardiac resuscitation and tube feeding, unless he/she has another document signed by your called a Living Will.

    The Living Will:

    The Living Will is a document which is usually prepared at the same time that you have your Health Proxy done because it gives your health agent the authority to make “life and death” decisions for you if you cannot speak for yourself. In this document you specify the circumstances under which you would not want to have treatments such as mechanical respiration, cardiac resuscitation or tube feeding done—treatments which although they may prolong your life are clearly objectionable to you based on the circumstances under which they would be administered.


    I have known M.J. McPherson for over 23 years and have found her to be a dedicated, hard-working, intelligent attorney, and now a very good friend. M.J. has represented us successfully in numerous legal matters. We have recommended her to various friends and relatives, and they have found her to be equally qualified and much to their satisfaction. We can sincerely recommend M. J. McPherson as a competent attorney who not only gets the job done but gets it done to her clients’ ultimate satisfaction.

    Charlotte, Brooklyn, NY

    Some people may think that lawyers are only interested in the almighty dollar and not so much about satisfying the needs of their clients. But I was very lucky the day I found Mary Jane McPherson. At a time when I was under great stress, she listened to my problem and helped me find the right solution in an intelligent and competent manner. Since that time, many years ago, I have relied on the legal services of Mary Jane McPherson time and time again.

    Stan P., Brooklyn, NY

    M.J. McPherson is a very intelligent, diligent, competent attorney. I would trust her judgment without hesitation on any question of law. Her honesty, careful study and industry has earned my highest respect; she is my primary attorney on all legal matters.

    Hester Turner, J.D., NYC

    579 74 Street | Brooklyn | NY 11209 | phone: 718-491-9270
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