We know that when a person engages in the process of creating an estate plan, it is important to review all assets that may be part of the disposition framework. Assets that are owned in a person’s name are typically subject to the provisions of a Will. The testator creates the planning for the estate by molding intentions around such assets and other property like joint accounts which may pass directly to named beneficiaries.
Similarly, after a person dies, the estate fiduciary, whether an executor or administrator, investigates the ownership of the decedent’s property and collects the estate assets and pays the estate expenses and obligations. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains many informative articles regarding estate settlement.
During the course of administering an estate, the fiduciary must also ascertain whether the decedent was subject to any obligations under various types of lifetime agreements. These obligations may continue after the decedent’s death and constitute claims against the estate or otherwise affect the distribution of the estate property. A few examples of such documents and their potential impact will highlight the necessity for a full review during the planning process and post-death settlement of the estate.
An individual may have created various trusts that may impact their estate. For example, if a person created a revocable lifetime trust and transferred assets into the trust, there may not be any assets which are to pass under an estate. Also, a Will may need to be a pour-over Will that pays any estate assets into the trust. Thus, it is essential that prior trust documents be reviewed and understood to facilitate the plan or administration of the estate.
Another important area concerns divorce and separation papers. A person may have entered into a divorce settlement or be subject to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. The papers can have a significant impact relating to inheritance rights and also post-death obligations. For example, if a decedent had agreed in a divorce settlement to maintain life insurance for an ex-spouse or child and such agreement provides for enforcement against his estate, there could be significant liability if such insurance was not maintained. Also, unpaid spousal or child support may be charged to a decedent’s estate. Various rights to inheritance could possibly have been negated or waived due to a divorce or marital agreement.
Business arrangements such as partnership agreements or corporate or limited liability company documents may obligate an estate to sell a decedent’s interest in such entities pursuant to an agreed procedure or value. These papers need to be examined and thoroughly understood. The failure to do so may lead to claims and estate litigation.
Putting together an estate plan and settling a New York estate require investigating and examining all aspects of assets, obligations and agreements to which a person may be a party. Call Me Now for a free confidential review of your estate issue. I have represented many individuals including administrators and executors in these types of situations. We provide reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 40 years resolve issues relating to guardianship and probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk County. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.