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Dying is Not the Problem!

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By Salvatore M. Di Costanzo

Dear Mr. Di Costanzo: Is having a Last Will and Testament enough?

When I meet with individuals regarding their estate planning needs, I am often asked to “put their affairs in order.” In most cases, they are asking for a Last Will and Testament. You might be surprised, however, to learn that a will might be the least important document in your estate plan.

Understand that a will only takes effect upon your death. Until your death, it has no legal significance.

While planning for the orderly disposition of your assets upon your death is important, planning for your disability or incapacity is of greater importance. If you fall ill and have taken no action to protect or preserve your assets, you run the risk of losing them to the cost of long-term care. As such, one of the most utilized and sought-after planning techniques of an elder law attorney is the Medicaid trust.

A Medicaid asset protection trust is paramount to a will. In fact, a power of attorney is paramount to a will. Without proper asset protection planning, there may be no assets to pass to your heirs under a will. For the above reasons, an estate plan that only considers a will may be deficient.

Salvatore M. Di Costanzo is a partner with the firm of Maker, Fragale & Di Costanzo, LLP located in Rye and Yorktown Heights. Di Costanzo is an attorney and accountant whose main area of practice is elder law and estate planning. He can be reached at 914-245-2440 or via e-mail at You may also visit

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