Planning an Estate in New York involves many considerations. At the outset of the process, particular care must be taken to understand the nature of the assets to be covered by the estate plan. Assets that are owned in an individual’s name alone would be subject to the terms of a Last Will. Such assets could also be transferred into a Grantor or Living Trust. On the other hand, assets that are owned jointly or which have designated beneficiaries would pass automatically on death to the survivor or beneficiary. Thus, these items may not be controlled by a Will or Trust. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed the importance of identifying ownership rights in property in numerous articles.
Another critical consideration in any type of plan is the selection of fiduciaries to manage and administer the fund that comprises an estate or trust.
Most often, the selection of an Executor or Trustee is an easy decision. A close family member such as a spouse or child is typically the first person to be designated. However, there are always considerations as to whether such persons have the appropriate qualifications to serve in such capacity. There may be health or medical issues that might interfere with a person’s ability to act as a fiduciary. Also, issues such as a conflict of interest may arise particularly where the proposed fiduciary may have some direct or indirect interest in how the estate or trust is administered or invested.
A person creating an estate plan should consider discussing with a New York estate lawyer the role of the fiduciary in view of the creator’s intentions and the benefits he wants to be achieved by the documents. For example, if a Supplemental Needs Trust is being established in a Will or an inter vivos trust, the creator may want to be certain that the designated Trustee and successor Trustee have an interest in caring for the Supplemental Needs Trust beneficiary. The creator may want to select a fiduciary that knows the beneficiary and would interact with the beneficiary so that the trust funds are used in the maximum way to benefit the beneficiary.
The creator of a Will or Trust cannot always anticipate issues that may arise after he dies. However, contingencies should try to be covered in the planning documents. When necessary, the Court may be able to provide direction and assistance.
A recent Manhattan trust case decided by New York Surrogate Nora Anderson on March 25, 2019, entitled in Matter of Boyer, concerned the resignation of trustees of inter vivos trusts. The corporate trustee sought to resign to diminish the fees that the trusts were requested to pay. Instead, the Court allowed the individual beneficiaries to be appointed as successor trustees.
I have represented many individuals in connection with estate planning and the selection of Executor and Trustees. Call me now for a free discussion if you have any questions or concerns regarding a Will or a Trust or an Estate. We provide a free initial consultation and reasonable and flexible fee arrangements.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Bronx and Brooklyn. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.