The Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York, recently published an informative piece about the need for comprehensive estate planning.
Perhaps it is the discomfort often associated with contemplating our mortality, but far too many of us pass without ever leaving a basic Will. Far fewer of us take the time to engage in the kind of comprehensive estate planning that can help shield our assets from estate taxes and ensure our directions are carried out upon our death.
An experienced New York City estate planning lawyer can take the stress out of such planning. In retrospect, clients wonder why they waited so long. With a plan in place, they can enjoy their lives with the confidence that comes from knowing their affairs are in order. And loved ones will not be burdened with the hassle after their death. Kinship proceedings, contested Wills and a spousal right of election are just some of the circumstances that can turn a smooth administration of an estate into a complicated proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court.
A comprehensive estate plan is much more than a plan for death — it is a plan for life. An estate plan can provide for your care in the event that you become disabled or incapacitated.
Living trusts are one tool that can be utilized to ensure your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes, without ever having to enter what can be a long, expensive and public probate court process. One example is a case in which someone leaves a Will but wishes to leave nothing to a child. The child must receive notice that the Will is being probated, which is frequently nothing more than an invitation to a courtroom fight.
A trust not only avoids the need for a public probate process, it bypasses the need to notify those left without an inheritance. Out-of-state property is another example of why trusts make sense. With a Will, such property would be subjected to probate proceedings in both states. The out-of-state proceeding is called an Ancillary Proceeding.
With a living trust, you move your assets into the trust, which you may control during your lifetime or you may name an independent or co-trustee. One word of caution: Living trusts that are not maintained, or are allowed to become dated, can complicate the distribution of assets after your death. For instance, if you have bought another home, and the property is not owned by the trust, it would have to go through the probate process at the time of your death.
Speaking with an experienced New York City estate planning attorney can be a wonderful step toward the security that comes with knowing you have prepared for whatever life brings your way.
New York City Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas handles all types of probate cases, as well as Wills, estate planning, estate settlement, advanced directives and guardianship matters. Please call me at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation to discuss your options.