Planning your estate can be incredibly complex and the laws in NYC certainly don’t make it any easier. Take a look at some of the most common questions we get from clients looking for estate planning guidance in New York.
If you die without a will, your assets will be at the mercy of state laws. Typically in New York, your property will be granted to nearest relatives in a pre-determined order (spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, etc.) With no will, your property may all go in a lump payout to your nearest of kin who will then be responsible for distributing the wealth at their discretion. If you have no family, your property may also become property of the state of New York. This is why it is so important to work with a team of will and testament experts!
Legally, you are allowed to draft your own will however the interpretations and laws related to dispersal of final assets are incredibly complex. By going it alone, you risk putting all of your assets at the mercy of a single loophole in NY state law, thus potentially losing everything just on the basis of poor paperwork — don’t make this mistake!
Essentially, a trust can be started with any assets of value with the exception of IRAs and Life Insurance policies. Because of this flexible nature, there are thousands of laws and tactics that apply to Trust creation, management, and growth. That means tons of opportunity as well!
While it may seem simple on paper, transferring a deed (or really any asset of significant value) to a loved one puts that asset a huge risk of fees and taxation. Gifts are taxable as is the property itself immediately upon receipt, meaning you can lose money twice in the process of transfer and turn this gift into a liability for the recipient. That is why it is critical to work with an experienced estate planning lawyer who can use things like trusts to save you big dollars.
Yes! Most of the time in New York, revocable living trusts are actually assigned to the person who creates them who is acting as their own trustee. If you’re married, you and your spouse can act as co-trustees, but there is no legal reason why you cannot be your own trustee!
That all depends on the trustee. If you are the trustee of your own trust, you can effectively do anything you want with the trust assets. In this case, you will have complete control to spend, save, invest or gift the assets of your revocable trust at your discretion. You can also amend or revoke your trust at any time.
The main difference between a trust and a will is that the Will typically needs to go through a “Probate” process before assets can be accessed. A Trust does not need to go through probate and allows beneficiaries access an estate immediately after the death of the settlor. Trusts typically cost more to set up a Will, but can be a cost effective way of owning your assets and negates extra expenses in Probate. Our estate planning lawyers can help you determine what path is right for you.

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When you are facing an estate planning question problem, you need calculated advice, compassionate support, and unwavering determination from a trusted partner. If you would like to receive a FREE consultation, call Estate Planning Lawyer NYC at 212-228-8632.
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