When planning your estate, you want to leave your loved ones a gift that will be easily accessible and involve a minimal amount of court involvement to obtain. Using a will for the majority of your assets will necessitate the probate process before certain assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries, a process which can be time-consuming and expensive. To avoid this, consider using a revocable living trust as a way to pass along certain assets or even the bulk of your estate.
Living trusts are a means to convey your property to your heirs without using a will, and thus forcing your heirs to go through probate. Unlike certain irrevocable trusts, revocable living trusts allow you to remain in total control of your assets while you’re alive, with the only difference being that your assets are held in the name of your living trust rather than your own name. Another advantage to a living trust is that unlike a will, living trusts are not public documents. While the contents and beneficiaries of your will become part of a court’s public records during probate, living trusts allow you to make gifts privately, since trusts are not administered through the court. It is important to know, however, that revocable living trusts are not a way to avoid income taxes on income earned from trust assets, nor will they eliminate the estate tax on the assets conveyed through the trust. A New York estate planning attorney can help you find other solutions that can reduce the tax burden on your estate.
Creating a living trust can also make it easier for a family member or trusted advisor to take over the management of your assets while you’re still alive. People are living longer, yet they may not have the ability to handle complex financial management in their later years. Additionally, as you age, the chances increase that a sudden accident or illness could leave you incapacitated. A living trust allows you to designate an individual to make financial decisions on your behalf, either permanently or temporarily as you recover from an injury or illness, and also allows you to leave detailed instructions as to how your assets should be handled when you are unable to do so yourself. This eliminates any future need by your family to seek guardianship over your affairs if you become disabled.
For assistance with any New York estate planning questions you may have, contact the experienced, knowledgeable, and respected Poughkeepsie estate planning attorneys at Van DeWater & Van DeWater for a consultation, at 845-452-5900.