Articles Tagged with new york city estate planning

Many areas of the law are constantly changing based on a variety of factors. Estate planning is no exception, especially given that there are potential changes coming to the United States tax policy under the current administration. One of those potential changes is the elimination or restructuring of the estate tax. For individuals with trusts or considering establishing a trust as part of their comprehensive estate planning strategy, the elimination or restructuring of the estate tax may make people wonder how effective those trusts will be in achieving the goals behind their creation. Even with the potential for such changes, trusts are still an important tool when it comes to comprehensive estate planning that will continue to provide many important benefits like those below.

Avoiding Probate

With or without the estate tax in its current form, trusts can help you avoid the headaches that often come with probate. By creating specific types of trusts to handle various assets and properly assigning such assets to those trusts, you can avoid the need to probate those assets This can save time and money, and can help ensure that your assets are distributed in the way you see fit.

The number of Americans choosing to cohabitate in lieu of marriage is steadily increasing. While nontraditional approaches to relationships are becoming more common, the importance of traditional measures related to comprehensive estate planning remain just as important. In fact, for couples that cohabitate without entering a traditional marriage, comprehensive estate planning can be an integral part of ensuring your partner’s financial security and preserving assets the way you want. The National Law Review recently published an article highlighting the importance of estate planning for cohabitating couples and while the following important information is not an exhaustive list of considerations, it is a place for cohabitating couples to begin when approaching estate planning.

Real Property

If the home you share with your partner is not in both of your names, you are likely to run into complications if they pass away. Without a traditional marriage, intestate succession will not work in your favor when it comes to property. Without a Will in place that specifically leaves that home to you, you would need to vacate the home after the title holder’s death or purchase the home for fair market value. Neither of these scenarios are ideal, and they are likely contrary to the plans you and your partner had for any property you own in the event of one of your deaths.

Growing older and the inevitability of death are unpleasant topics for most people. Often equally unpleasant is the thought of being alive but being unable to make important decisions for yourself. Part of a comprehensive and effective estate planning strategy includes ensuring that you have planned for the possibility of future incapacity. Incapacity typically refers to the inability to make important medical and financial decisions, but proper planning for the possibility of such an occurrence can help make sure that should such circumstances arise, your designee will be adequately prepared to handle them. Failing to plan for incapacity can result in serious financial consequences and may inhibit your ability to distribute your assets as you see fit.

Perhaps the most important part of ensuring that you have adequately planned for the possibility of incapacity is working with an experienced estate planning attorney to make sure all of your estate planning documents accurately reflect your wishes for them. An estate planning attorney can review your estate plan for accuracy as well as for compliance with the law, and can ensure that any steps you have taken to plan for incapacity will fulfill your goals. The following suggestions can help you plan for the possibility of incapacity and avoid the pitfalls that come from being unprepared.

Power of Attorney

Comprehensive estate planning is a responsible way to protect your assets. One of the primary ways you can utilize estate planning to protect your assets is by ensuring that your estate plan accurately reflects how you wish to have your assets distributed in the event of your death. Taking steps toward preventing individuals from contesting your Will is one way to help make sure that your estate will be distributed according to those wishes. A common approach many people take to contesting a Will is by claiming that the testator – or the person that created the Will – made decisions within the Will because of undue influence. While this claim is not always wholly unavoidable, there are steps that you can take to decrease the chances that such a claim will arise.

Understanding Undue Influence

There is nothing wrong with an individual asking for specific property or even a child encouraging a parent to leave specific things to them instead of their siblings. Courts do not typically view these actions as examples of undue influence, even when an individual is fervent about their desires. However, such requests move closer toward undue influence when the testator is in a compromised position such as being mentally or physically ill. For instance, if the child asking for property is the ailing parent’s caregiver, a court may find that repeated requests for certain assets could qualify as undue influence depending on the other circumstances surrounding the request and individuals involved.

Most individuals look forward to retirement for many years. The chance to enjoy the hard work you have put forth throughout your lifetime is appealing, and being able to do so without being tied down by work or other responsibilities often sweetens the potential possibilities that await you in retirement. For some people, retiring abroad is one of their life goals. Maybe they visited a place they simply fell in love with or maybe they want to take advantage of more favorable economic situations that can exist for some individuals in other countries. Whatever the reason for desiring a retirement abroad, there are some important estate planning considerations to keep in mind.

Double Taxation

If you remain a United States citizen, you will still be subject to U.S. taxes. That means you need to be aware of the tax policy in any country you might be considering retiring in outside of the United States. If the country you want to retire to will also impose taxes on you, you may end up paying double the taxes on your income and potentially on your assets. This can significantly reduce the size of your estate, in turn hindering your ability to leave as much of your assets as possible to your heirs. While you can renounce your U.S. citizenship, doing so carries a wide range of consequences. It may become more difficult to visit loved ones in the United States, and you may even be subject to the U.S. expatriation tax.

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.


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.

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