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Queens Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

How do I create the best trust for my children?

While it is not the most pleasant subject for adults in New York to think about, preparing for your death is important to securing the future of your children. You do not want to wait until it is too late to plan for how your children will inherit your assets. That is why now is a good time to consider how to make the best trust for your children while avoiding possible pitfalls.

An article run on the CNBC website lays out the possible problems that can arise with creating a trust. One of them is giving your children too much from the trust too early. When your children are young, it is natural to set an early date, such as eighteen years old, for them to receive money from the trust. However, you do not know how responsible your children will be with money until you have watched them grow into adolescence and then into young adulthood. As your children grow older, you might observe that they are not ready for sudden inheritances of substantial amounts of money.

Who are the people involved in a trust?

New York probate court could serve several crucial functions for you, such as settling disputes between inheritors or discerning the intention of will authors. However, you may find it in your best interest to avoid probate altogether: This is often the preference of individuals with high net worth who expect to leave a large estate behind. Avoiding probate in these cases might hasten the disbursement of property from your estate to your beneficiaries. It may also help you circumvent court fees, professional service costs and even reduce tax.

To this end, you might consider establishing a living trust. The first step to understanding the function of trusts— a unique form of property ownership— is identifying the people involved.

What changes with the new federal estate tax law?

If you are planning your estate in New York, you may want to take a minute to review the new federal estate tax law. This could change what you do with your assets. If you already have an estate plan, you may want to make changes so your estate does not go to probate or other issues do not arise due to this new law. 

According to MarketWatch, the federal estate tax law change went into effect on the 1st of January. This tax, also often called death tax, has some good and bad effects on your estate. It is first important to understand what does not change under the new law.

How can a staple lead to contesting a will?

You have carefully worked to legally construct your will. You have followed all the New York laws and filed your will properly. You have been exact with your wording and informed your family of your will's contents in the hopes of avoiding anyone contesting it. With all this done, you probably think you can rest easy knowing your wishes will be carried out exactly as you have stated in your will with no problem. 

However, one move, which could occur before or even after you die, could put everything at risk. What is it? Removing the staple you used to secure all the pages of your will.

Uses for a durable financial power of attorney

As you consider how to ensure your wishes are known clearly and your financial affairs remain secure, it is often wise to consider assigning durable financial power of attorney to a person you trust.

Durable financial power of attorney grants a specific person the rights and authority to have access to your finances and make financial decisions on your behalf. It is easy to see how delicately you must consider who should have this power, especially if you have a considerable estate or a number of ongoing payments that you must keep up on a regular basis.

Can you include personal mementos in your estate plan?

As you begin to work on your estate plan in New York, you may have many questions. This includes learning about what can be included in your plan and how to legally express who gets what when you die. One thing you may wonder about specifically is if you can include items that have no monetary value or little monetary value but that are sentimental in your plan.

According to the New York Times, you can and should include the little items along with your pricey assets in your estate plan. Anything that your heirs may argue over should be included in your plan to ensure your wishes are followed. For example, if you have an old painting of an ancestor that is not worth much money but that has been handed down from generation to generation that you want to ensure stays in the family, you can appoint who gets it in your plan. This ensures that is it clear who you want to have the painting.

What are the steps in probate?

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstands about probate in New York. It is often put out there that probate is this long, drawn-out process that is complicated to get through, but that is not always the reality. The process is often a formality needed to ensure the legal transfer of assets. 

According to New York Life, the county in which you live will begin the probate proceedings. Your family should then produce your will. If you did not have a will, then one of your close family members will act as the administrator of your estate in front of the court. The court may also appoint someone to the role. 

Is it possible to keep your estate out of probate court?

Having your will contested and it ending up in a New York probate court can be problematic for your loved ones. Probate can be a long process. It also may cause financial hardships for your loved ones who need the money and other assets you left behind. You may be able to avoid having your will go to probate by doing a few things when you are planning your estate.

According to The Motley Fool, there are a couple steps you can take now to set up your will so it cannot be contested. The first is to set beneficiaries on all applicable accounts. You can do this with your retirement, banking and other similar financial accounts. When you set a beneficiary, that person receives access to the account when you die. It is automatic and easy to set up. 

Why are estate plans so important?

It is the start of a new year. For many people in Jamaica, it means the opportunity to start over and do things differently. For you, it is a prime time to stop procrastinating on estate planning. According to Forbes, a little more than half of all individuals who are between the ages of 55 and 64 do not have estate plans. With each passing year, you grow older. Though you have many good years left in your life, a solid estate plan ensures you will be well cared for.

Helps prevent mismanagement

4 ways your last will and testament could be invalid

Drafting a last will and testament is not as simple as scribbling down a few notes on your deathbed and giving it to a trusted friend. In some cases, a handwritten "holographic will" like this could withstand a challenge in court, but an informal will is risky and ill-advised.

In fact, there are numerous ways that a will could be invalidated. It's important to understand these potential will weaknesses so you can avoid having your will contested after you're gone.