Articles Tagged with fishkill estate planning

Comprehensive estate planning is a lifelong process. There are always reasons to review and update your estate planning portfolio, including major life events life births or divorces. Not only does estate planning need to be a part of adjusting to major life changes, but the components of your estate plan can be used to protect your assets as well as those of your loved ones during these types of life events. However, one common pitfall of a comprehensive estate plan is when individuals own or acquire property outside of a trust. Doing so can result in unintended tax consequences as well as risk exposing your property to the probate process and/or creditors.

Property and Revocable Trusts

When you own property, placing that property in a revocable trust might be a good move for you based on your individual circumstances. Some benefits of a basic revocable trust include allowing assets within that trust, including property, to avoid the probate process. The probate process can be time-consuming and add unnecessary expense to settling an estate. It is also possible that placing assets like property in a trust will allow your family members to retain control over those assets if you are incapacitated to the point where a court may wish to appoint an outside guardian. Assets not within a trust are subject to probate and the potential loss of familial control in case of your incapacitation.

Most people engage in comprehensive estate planning to ensure that the things they have worked for throughout their life can pass along to their heirs. Preserving your assets is an important part of ensuring that you are able to pass as many assets to heirs as possible. There are a variety of methods that allow you to successfully preserve assets in the face of major life events, if you are being pursued by creditors, or even from the financial costs of probate. It is of particular importance to make sure that high value assets, like real estate, are protected in these situations. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make sure that your real estate assets are able to be passed on.

Gifting

Perhaps one of the most common ways to protect real estate assets is to gift them to a friend or family member. You can either make an outright gift of the real estate or place real estate in a trust for a person. If you make an outright gift of real estate to another, you may be subjecting the transaction to the federal gift tax. However, the gift tax may ultimately be significantly less than the estate tax you could face if real estate you are gifting were to be included in your final estate valuation. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand both the federal gift tax and federal estate tax, as well as their state-level counterparts, to help you make more informed decisions about gifting high value and/or other assets.

The popularity of trusts in estate planning has increased steadily over the last few decades. They are often excellent vehicles that can help people protect their assets and avoid excessive tax penalties related to such assets. One of the more traditional types of trust is known as a Crummey Trust. A Crummey Trust is a trust structured in a way that allows parents to make annual deposits to it within the currently established annual limit while allowing for beneficiaries to maintain a present interest in gifts. This trust has some features that might make it applicable to your estate planning needs.

Features of a Crummey Trust

A Crummey Trust allows individuals to use the annual gift tax exclusion while funding a substantial trust that a recipient cannot access until a certain age. As such, it requires the recipient to have what is known as a present interest in the trust. This means that the recipient has immediate access to funds deposited into the trust. In order for Crummey powers in a trust to adhere to this present interest, funds deposited to the trust are available for immediate withdrawal/use by the recipient for a reasonable period of time, such as 30 days after the gift has been made. Once 30 days has passed, the money automatically gets deposited into the trust where it will be protected until the age at which the recipient has been designated as having access to it.

Comprehensive estate planning is an important part of aging, especially if you have already started a family. Estate planning for young families can be an unpleasant topic, but it is extremely important. Making sure that your heirs are provided for not only provides you with peace of mind, but also ensures that their needs can be met if you are not able to meet them yourself. When you begin to think about estate planning options, the following tips from a recent article in the Chicago Tribune can help you direct your energy and resources toward making the right decision based on your circumstances.

Make an Inventory of Your Assets

The first step in comprehensive estate planning is to figure out exactly what you are working with. You can do this by making a list of all of your assets so that you can see exactly what you have to leave to your heirs. Make sure to include everything: cars, checking accounts, retirement plans, digital property, trademarks you may own, jewelry, clothing, and any other assets you may have. This will give you an idea of how complicated the estate planning process might be for you and can help you determine which estate planning strategies might work best for you. You will also need to start thinking about who you would like these various assets to go to as that may have a significant impact on the types of estate planning strategies you ultimately engage in.

Comprehensive estate planning can be a confusing process. It can be even more confusing with larger estates or with multiple children. Parents want to ensure that their estate plan provides for their children’s financial security, but in circumstances where children may be in different financial situations or a variety of characteristics may impact how parents elect to distribute their assets estate planning is an important part of avoiding a fight over the estate plan down the line. The following tips, adapted from a recent article from Forbes about circumstances that often combine to lead to fights over estate plans, can help you prepare your estate plan in a way that avoids fighting over it among your heirs. In preparing your estate plan cautiously and planning to avoid potential fights between heirs, you can ensure that more of your assets are preserved for your heirs and that their relationships do not have to face the test of a legal challenge to your estate plan.

Include a No Contest Clause

One of the most direct ways of avoiding potential fights over your ultimate decision in how you wish to distribute your assets to your heirs is no work with your estate planning attorney to include a “no contest” provision in your Last Will and Testament. Doing so allows you to notify heirs that anyone that chooses to contest the Will stands to inherit nothing should they try to contest the validity of the Will through legal channels and lose. The mere existence of this type of clause can discourage individuals from fighting over the provisions of your estate plan.

A growing family often includes children. Sometimes, children come with special needs that need to be attended to throughout their lives. These special needs can include physical, mental, emotional, and/or developmental disabilities. When such needs arise, they can cost a great deal of money on a regular basis. A common concern parents or family members of individuals with special needs often have is how those individuals with special needs will be taken care of later in lifer when parents or family members have passed on. For these families, a special needs trust might be the answer.

An Introduction to Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust is a trust established to address the long term needs of an individual with a disability that may require lifelong care. Many individuals with disabilities may qualify for state benefits and assistance to help offset the cost of long-term medical care and other costs that may arise. If the parents or family members of a person with special needs were to leave assets to the person with special needs, the inheritance may cause the individual to lose benefits provided by the state because the inheritance could cause their income to surpass the level under which a person is eligible for state benefits.

There are many factors that can influence how we decide to distribute our assets to heirs after our death. Most of the time, a large portion of our estate is left to our closest family members, including a spouse and children. However, determining exactly what we leave to those family members can be challenging especially when we consider the many additional factors that can be important in this part of the process.

When Equal Isn’t Necessarily Fair

Many individuals seek to make the asset distribution process easier by simply dividing assets among their heirs equally. However, depending on the personal dynamics of your family, that may not be the wisest choice. The following example, adapted from a recent article from Forbes, helps highlight this type of situation.

There can be a lot of confusing terms involved in comprehensive estate planning. Estate plans are meant to be individual and flexible, and a New York estate planning attorney can provide you with a variety of options that help you create a plan that works for you and your wishes. One option that an estate planning attorney might present is a revocable trust, sometimes referred to as a living trust or a revocable living trust. The following provides some basic information about what these trusts are and how they operate.

What is a revocable trust?

Trusts are agreements between you and a third party in which you allow the third party, often referred to as a trustee, to hold assets for your beneficiaries. There are a variety of different kinds of trusts that each have different nuances that may work best for you. However, revocable trusts are often used in estate planning. A revocable trust is a trust you can create during your lifetime that may help you manage and protect your assets if you become ill or incapacitated. The American Bar Association notes that you may name yourself as trustee while also selecting a co-trustee, should you choose to do so. As the name states, revocable trusts can usually be created to be revoked or changed as you see fit. Revocable trusts should not be confused with irrevocable trusts which have distinct characteristics, especially related to taxes.

Planning your estate is an important step in ensuring that you, your loved ones, and your estate will be taken care of in the event of your incapacity or death. A few documents can determine the type of medical attention you receive, who handles your financial matters, and how your estate is distributed after your passing. Choosing a knowledgeable and experienced professional to guide you through the estate planning process can protect your family from trouble in the future.

A Relationship Built on Trust

Choosing a legal professional can be difficult. One of the most important things to consider is trust. Your estate planning attorney should be someone that you are comfortable with. In order to fully plan out your estate, you will be faced with a number of difficult questions and what-if scenarios, such as “who will care for your children” and “do you wish to be kept alive by artificial means”. Hiring an attorney you feel comfortable with who is able to talk through these situations with you can make the process much simpler and less stressful. In many cases, the attorney who drafts your estate planning documents will also be working with your loved ones to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. Choosing someone your trust who is aware of your wishes can make this process easier.

For people who reach age 65, the odds of needing long-term care benefits during their lifetime are nearly 70 percent. People are living longer and in turn needing care in their old age. On average men require 2.2 years worth of care and women require 3.7 years. Preparing for this level of care and any other type of medical care you may receive requires forethought and careful planning.

Appointing a Health Care Agent

We’ve previously discussed in this blog New York’s Family Health Care Decisions Act and the appointment of a patient’s family member or close friend to act as a surrogate decision maker for a patient who has become incapacitated. This act allows close relatives to make decisions even if the patient had never given them decision making power.

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