Trusts and estate plans

While some people with very simple estates may not need to set up a trust, trusts can be a useful tool for many different people in New York who are in the process of estate planning. People who have a net worth of $100,000 and who have a sizable portion of assets held in real estate, art or business may benefit by using a trust.

Some people want to direct that their assets be provided at different times contingent upon the intended beneficiary completing something or reaching a certain age. Others want to ensure that after their spouse dies, their estates will then pass to their children and not the spouse’s heirs. Trusts are also beneficial for people who want to provide for a disabled relative without affecting his or her ability to receive disability payments and Medicaid.

Trusts allow people to avoid the costs and fees of probate . They also can be used to reduce estate and gift taxes and help to protect assets from lawsuits and creditors. People who set up trusts can also put conditions on the time of disbursement of assets as well as the manner in which they are distributed.

Trusts can be an important and beneficial tool to use when planning how to handle an estate. There are many different benefits to setting up a trust depending on the type of trust selected. They are very flexible and can be varied to meet the individual needs of the grantor and his or her intended beneficiaries. People should carefully think what they would like to achieve with their estate and discuss whether a trust is appropriate for them with their estate planning attorney. An attorney may be able to advise his or her clients regarding the type of trust that would best help them.

Source:  CNN Money, ” Estate planning: Is a trust beneficial? “, November 24, 2014

Requirements for New York wills to be properly executed

Wills in New York must meet several criteria before they are executed properly by a probate court. First and foremost, they must be in writing rather than in the form of oral testimony. A will must be signed by the one who wrote it or by a person in his or her presence and at his or her direction. A person who signs for the one who wrote the will does not count as a witness to the will execution .

At least two witnesses must be able to attest within a 30-day period that the one who wrote the will either signed it or directed another to sign it in his or her name. Their signatures and addresses must be affixed to the end of the will. The will must be signed in the presence of these witnesses, or the one who drafted the will must acknowledge the signature to each witness separately. Additionally, the drafter of the will must declare to each witness that the legal instrument is in fact his or her will.

Most of the formal requirements for execution and attestation of wills involve making sure that the will is indeed the will of its drafter. As such, these formal requirements do not need to be followed in any set order, but all necessary formalities must be observed within a satisfactory period of time.

For assistance in drafting a New York will as well as help with making sure all the formalities are properly adhered to, an estate planning lawyer may be able to help. Estate planning lawyers assist with numerous end-of-life financial decisions such as setting up trusts, managing tax concerns and drawing up a will to handle the transmission of one’s estate. They may also be able to assist with handling any probate court issues should they come up.

Source:  FindLaw, ” N.Y. EPT. LAW § 3-2.1 : NY Code – Section 3-2.1: Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements “, November 16, 2014

Charitable trusts in New York

Some people in New York might wish to set up a charitable trust so they can donate assets and income earned through it to various designated charities. It is important when people are wanting to set up a trust for this function that they do it in such a way as to avoid potential tax implications.

The IRS tax code provides that a charitable trust is not a charitable organization, and thus any income the trust makes is subject to excise taxes. Charitable organizations, on the other hand, are exempt from excise taxes. It is possible for a trust to receive designation as a charitable organization, however.

When a charitable trust donates all of its assets and income to various charities, the trust will not be considered charitable while the estate is administered and settled. Similarly, when a charitable trust seeks exemption from taxes as a charitable organization, it will be considered to have been organized from the first day it became subject to the tax code provisions.

People who are wishing to establish such a trust may benefit from discussing how to do so with an estate planning attorney. Trusts may be used as either the primary or secondary vehicle through which one may pass assets to intended beneficiaries. Trusts can also be used to avoid the future probate of an estate and the corresponding expenses as well. When setting up a trust, it is important to choose one that meets the goals of the grantor and protect the assets held by the trust from potential estate taxes.

Source:, ” Charitable Trusts “, November 11, 2014

Trust structures may help with asset management

New Yorkers who want to ensure their possessions are managed properly may rely on wills and similar documents, but living trusts offer an alternative. These structures are notable in that their grantors can name themselves trustees and thus manage the assets they want to safeguard. In addition, other trusts, such as spendthrift trusts, can be included in a living trust so that beneficiaries are explicitly looked after.

Living trusts are exempt from some of the legal requirements associated with wills. For instance, they can often be set up with fewer official procedures, and modifications don’t usually need to be witnessed. Those with complex arrangements might benefit as well; unlike will executors, their trustees can be based in other jurisdictions.

Living trusts can be employed with many goals in mind. Real estate developers and businesspeople may include trust assets such as tenancy properties that can then be overseen by their trustees. When used to benefit family members following a death, trusts can ensure a predetermined division of assets takes place as intended. The fact that probate courts generally don’t get involved in the process means that assets passed along by grantors are continuously owned even if beneficiaries die or other unexpected events occur.

Living trusts can be complex, especially when they involve specific intents or uncommon asset structures. While these trusts are generally easier to draft than wills, failing to account for the laws that apply to particular property types may ultimately render an arrangement ineffective or liable for unforeseen taxes. Some New York property owners find it advantageous to investigate the legal ramifications of the different kinds of trust schemes they can enact before getting started.

Source:  American Bar Association , ” Living Trusts “, November 02, 2014

Queens spouses may have to fight for their rights

Spousal relationships can turn sour for many reasons, and in such situations, individuals may take actions that violate state law. Some spouses, for instance, attempt to disinherit their partners so that they don’t receive their legally entitled portion of an estate following a death. Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., strives to empower people so they can take advantage of laws designed to protect their best interests and their futures.

While there are numerous circumstances in which disinheriting a spouse is a completely legal action, spouses usually retain the right to file for the right of election after they’ve been disinherited. Such filings call on the courts to determine who is in the wrong and how probate law ought to be applied to resolve the situation. It’s important to note, however, that the statute of limitations for such filings is six months after the naming of an estate executor. We work hard to help our clients stay on top of their filing requirements and gather the evidence they need to prove their case.

New York law entitles you to a share of your deceased spouse’s estate, and this is generally equal to the greater of $50,000 or a third of an estate’s value. These sums aren’t guaranteed; for instance, abandoning a spouse who later died may render someone ineligible for a share. It’s critical to study your case in detail before filing, and our lawyers are always willing to perform intensive research.

Our work with spouses on both sides of disinheritance cases and other probate issues has given us the knowledge we need to resolve ongoing disputes and elucidate spouses’ legal options. Discover more by visiting our page on probate litigation .

Source:  Joseph A Ledwidge, P.C., ” Queens Lawyer For Spousal Rights Of Elections Against Estate “, October 30, 2014