Articles Tagged with nyc estate planning lawyer

A last will and testament is a very important document detailing the final wishes of a deceased person and New York probate courts give great deference to the language contained in a deceased individual’s decrees. One of the limited ways interested parties to an estate can challenge the directives contained in a last will and testament is to claim the deceased was not of sound mind and body at the time the document was executed, due to the undue influence of an individual attempting to take advantage of the situation and enrich himself or herself.

New York’s Surrogate Courts have very limited instances in which someone can contest the deceased’s wishes to disperse his or her property to the beneficiaries of the estate and asserting undue influence is often one of the most difficult to prove. The petitioner must prove to the court the testator somehow could not escape the influence of someone with a close, personal relationship to the deceased.

Additionally, the individual petitioning the court to invalidate the will must be an interested party, meaning he or she must have a legal claim to the deceased’s estate as a relative, usually a spouse or child. Under New York inheritance laws, spouses and children are typically granted a certain share or proportion of the estate and are therefore given standing to interject as an interested party.

Nobody likes thinking about serious illness, especially a serious illness that could lead to death. Unfortunately, such illnesses can cause massive financial difficulties for friends and loved ones which can in turn significantly deplete the assets you had been planning to leave to your heirs. The moral of the story is that, no matter your age, it is never too early to start planning for the potential need for end-of-life care. The following tips are adapted from a recent article on this topic found in USA Today, and they may provide you with some important concepts to consider when thinking about healthcare issues.

Be Explicit About Your Wishes

Telling people in passing how you hope to be cared for in case of serious illness is important, but it isn’t necessarily always enough. It is important to write down your wishes and be explicit about how you wish your health care to be handled. You should also work with your estate planning attorney to create documents such as health care proxy nominations and/or a living will that express your healthcare wishes in detail.

While comprehensive estate planning can certainly be a difficult process, there are some things that remain rather constant. Most parents will choose to leave the bulk of their estate to their surviving spouse and/or their children, with the surviving spouse typically leaving the remainder of the estate to children. However, it is not uncommon for individuals thinking about retirement and other aspects of estate planning to not have children and/or not be married. When those situations arise, many of those individuals find it challenging to determine how they would like to distribute their estate and to decide whom they should nominate to make important decisions. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the myriad options available to you, and a recent article from CNBC can help you start exploring your options.

Shaping Your Will

According to the article, a 2016 survey indicated that 64 percent of Americans do not have a Will in place. While the survey did not focus on childless adults, it is safe to say that many of those individuals do not have a Will in place, either. When you die without leaving a Will, your state has a statute that determines to whom your estate will be distributed.

Typically, many people tend to think an estate plan only includes your Will. In today’s day and age, however, most people have a much more diversified estate plan than they realize. Your estate plan is far more than just your Will and includes things like trusts, investments, retirement accounts, and insurance policies. One of the challenges of comprehensive estate planning can be understanding how these assets work and to whom they should go to. Recently, Forbes explored the way several assets within a typical estate plan usually work and understanding this could be an important part of your estate planning decisions.

Wills and Trusts

Those selected to benefit from assets distributed through a Will may have to wait a little longer than if you were to use a trust or other vehicle to distribute such assets. Wills are required to go through the probate process to prove that they are valid and to make sure they comply with the law. Typically, assets within a Will cannot be touched until the probate process is complete. While the probate process in New York is easier than elsewhere, it can still be time-consuming especially for an individual that may need immediate access to the assets in your Will.

Most individuals recognize the importance of comprehensive estate planning, although they may still choose to avoid it. One important part of your estate plan is your power of attorney (“POA”). Basically, a POA is a document that nominates an individual to make legal decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so for yourself. You can choose the extent of the decision-making power you vest in the individual you have chosen by working together with an experienced estate planning attorney to determine how to best represent your goals. However, it is important to be aware of some of the pitfalls that could weaken your POA. According to a recent article from Forbes, the following tips may help you do just that.

Use an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Too many people decide to cut corners by using any number of online forms and legal information available for download. However, these forms are not tailored to a client’s individual needs, nor do they help you understand important aspects about making sure your POA and other estate planning documents meet the needs you have expressed. Designing your POA and other estate planning documents with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you make sure that your estate plan complies with the law. This can save you and your loved ones time, money, and stress down the line. With something as important as estate planning, you want to be sure that you

Once an individual decides to engage in comprehensive estate planning, several concerns may arise. One of those concerns often involves leaving a large sum of money to an heir that may be facing financial difficulty or may not yet have the ability to budget in a responsible manner. In such cases, individuals likely still want to make sure that the heir in question is financially provided for, but may have serious concerns over whether or not the heir is able to utilize an inheritance in a reasonable manner. In such cases, CNBC notes that increasingly popular IRA trusts might be the solution to helping you make sure that an heir’s inheritance accomplishes the goal you want it to meet.

Basics of an IRA Trust

An IRA, or individual retirement account, typically comes in one of two forms: a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. There are different tax structures in place for both types of accounts, but regardless of the type you choose these retirement accounts can often grow to include sizeable amounts of money over time. As these accounts grow, it is increasingly important for you to ensure that your comprehensive estate planning strategy makes the best use of them.

We have written several aspects about the role IRAs can play in your comprehensive estate planning strategy, as well as several concerns that accompany them. Here, we will address the two common choices facing non-spousal individuals listed as heirs for an IRA account that is not slated to go to a trust for that individual heir. These two choices are to take a lump sum withdrawal or to keep the account invested. Each of these may have different consequences for an individual heir that are important for everyone to keep in mind.

Lump Sum Withdrawal

Non-spousal IRA heirs have the option to elect to make a lump sum withdrawal of the assets within the IRA. Choosing this option could be beneficial on several levels, such as enabling the heir to make use of a large sum of money for important large purchases like a house or renovations. It could also enable them to pay off otherwise crippling debts. However, inheriting a large sum of money all at once can carry complications, some of which are determined by the amount within the IRA as well as the type of IRA.

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.

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