Setting up a living trust in New York

When it comes to estate planning, you may have a variety of options on the table. For example, you could be considering either a revocable living trust or an irrevocable living trust. In Jamaica, and other parts of New York, it is critical to approach these issues correctly and avoid unnecessary complications that affect your property. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., our law firm knows how challenging estate planning matters can be for some people.

When deciding whether to set up a revocable or irrevocable living trust, there are a multitude of factors to take into consideration. According to the NYC Caregiver’s site, smaller estates do not always need revocable trusts  due to low probate expenses. However, revocable trusts may work well for sizable estates which wish to prevent legal fees, court costs and probate. Moreover, revocable trusts may be particularly beneficial for those who own property in a number of states.

Revocable trusts are advantageous for some, while others benefit from an irrevocable trust. For example, if you want to set up a trust for a grandchild or retain Medicaid eligibility while securing your assets, an irrevocable living trust may be the right move. That said, it is very important to take a close look at the individual details pertaining to your situation beforehand.

Whether you decide to establish a living trust or opt for a different type of estate plan, it is essential to do everything you can to protect your assets. On our trust administration page, you can read more about  living trusts .

Intestacy and the distribution of property

If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be experiencing a wide range of challenges. For example, you may have significant emotional pain after the death of your parent, or you could be experiencing financial challenges after losing a spouse. If your loved one did not have a will, you may be unsure of how their property will be distributed. At the law offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., our law firm knows how difficult these matters can be for families in Jamaica, and all over the state of New York.

According to the New York Unified Court System, property is distributed in different ways when people die without wills. If someone who does not have a marital partnner passes away without a will, all of their property will be given to their children. On the other hand, parents will inherit property  that belonged to children who did not have any kids or a spouse at the time of their death, provided no will was in place. If a married couple does not have kids together, one spouse will inherit his or her partner’s property after they have died without a will. In some cases, a person is even able to inherit property that belonged to their sibling, if their sister or brother had no will.

Although losing a family member can be very upsetting, you should try to avoid additional hardships by handling any estate issues properly. If you visit our page on estate administration, you can read additional information concerning people who have passed away and did not have a will .

3 things to know about living wills in New York

A living will is a legal document that allows the creator to provide written instructions on how his or her health care should be managed in the event of incapacitation. Having a basic understanding of how these legal tools function is helpful both for those putting together an estate plan as well as those looking to administer a loved one’s estate plan .

What exactly is a living will?

This document is just one of many available in a well balanced estate plan and is particularly useful for end-of-life care. A health care proxy is similar. Instead of providing instructions for how health care decisions should be managed, the health care proxy allows the creator to name another individual to make health care decisions on the creator’s behalf.

Another important distinction between these two types of legal documents is the fact that the health care proxy is established under state law. Although the living will is not officially established under state law, the State of New York’s Office of the Attorney General notes that this document is generally accepted by New York Courts.

There are many benefits to putting together this type of document. Three of the more common include:

  • Control. This type of document allows the creator to remain in control, even if incapacitated. Whether unconscious due to an auto accident or hospitalized and fighting a serious illness, this document can outline exactly what type of care the creator wishes to receive – better ensuring the creator’s wishes are met.
  • Clarity. These documents also provide clarity. Loved ones will not wonder what the creator would want in these situation, these wants would be clearly listed within the living will.
  • Cost. Ultimately, use of a living will could reduce the costs to the creator’s estate. Without this document, loved ones could disagree over the creator’s wishes. This could lead to costly litigation and potentially deplete the assets of the creator’s estate.

These are just three of the many benefits of one document that composes a well balanced estate plan. Anyone that is considering adding this legal tool to an already existing estate plan (or starting an estate plan to begin with) is wise to contact an experienced estate planning attorney. This legal professional can guide you through the process of putting together or administrating an estate plan.

Reasons for a New York will contest

As regular readers of our Queens probate and estate administration law blog know, we regularly cover topics that involve disputes over wills. In some cases, those disputes will include what is known as a will contest .

Here in New York, anyone who is affected by a will can challenge the will. The New York City Bar Association notes that there are a number of reasons for will contests. 

One reason cited in will contests is that the person who made the will was not of sound mind at the time the will was written. In general, this means the person was unable to understand the practical effects of the will.

Another reason for challenging a will is that not all proper procedures were followed in the making of the document. Examples of this would be that the will was not signed or witnessed.

We have all undoubtedly read of another will contest reason: undue influence. This circumstance can come about when, for instance, an elderly person comes under undue influence from a caregiver and writes a will that excludes their children in favor of the caregiver.

Duress: this situation involves “extreme pressure” exerted to make the person write a will that divides property against their own wishes.

It can be difficult to successfully contest a will. The process often puts family members on opposite sides of the dispute.

In some situations, a skilled negotiator can craft an agreement that resolves the matter. In other cases, litigation is required.

A skilled, experienced Queens attorney can help you achieve a favorable outcome in your situation. A confidential discussion of your circumstances with attorney Joseph Ledwidge can help you choose and pursue your best legal options in these matters.

Is blood always thicker than water?

When Prince died earlier this year, he left a void the music world will never be able to fill. The pop superstar also left a void when it came to carrying out his final wishes, leaving no will or estate plan.

The Associated Press notes that the late singer-songwriter’s sister and 5 half-siblings are expected to be named his heirs within several months as a probate court wrestles with the division of his considerable assets. 

The singer lived and died in Paisley Park, a sprawling complex near Minneapolis that included his home, recording studios and business headquarters. The AP reports that a wrinkle in Minnesota probate law might allow non-blood relatives to persuade the court to give them a slice of an estate valued at between $100 million and $300 million.

In Minnesota, a person can be considered a parent based on their relationship with a child who is not a blood relative, such as when someone raises a non-biological child. In the Prince case, that unique feature of the law comes into play because of the late Duane Nelson Jr., who was reportedly Prince’s half-brother.

Duane might not have been biologically linked to the singer, however. Despite that, Duane was apparently raised by John L. Nelson, Prince’s father. That relationship might be enough to establish Duane’s link to Prince, and thereby pave the way for three claims by people related by blood to Duane to be acknowledged by the court as heirs to the Prince fortune.

The AP figures that Duane’s share of the estate could be one-seventh of the total value, and that the three claimants would then split that slice. If we use the low-end value for the estate ($100 million), it would mean each of the three would be due approximately $4.7 million.

Anyone facing the prospect of probate should discuss their circumstances and legal options with an experienced Queens probate attorney.