ESTATE PLANNING & TRUST SERVICES:
One of the most difficult conversations to have with your family is how to deal with asset and financial planning following death. Early preparation is crucial for all individuals. People are often surprised that by operation of law, New York State will draft a Last Will and Testament for those people who die without a Will or proper estate planning. Essentially, your estate may go to people whom you may not have chosen to receive your assets. In addition, you may not be able to take advantage of tax saving opportunities.
- What is a Last Will and Testament? A Last Will and Testament is also called a Will. A Will is a written statement of what a person wants done with their property after they pass away. A Will gives directions for how property should be divided and names an Executor to carry out those wishes. You can also appoint a guardian for your children in your Will.
- What is a Trust? A Trust is a legal relationship that divides legal ownership and economic ownership of trust property between a trustee and one or more beneficiaries respectively. At death, a trust can act very much like a Last Will and Testament but, without involving Surrogate’s Court.
While there are various types of trusts, the four most popular types are:
- Revocable Trust or Living Trust is a trust which can be amended or restated during the lifetime of the settlor/grantor (that is the person making the trust).
- Irrevocable Trust is a trust which can not be amended or restated by the settlor/grantor after it has been created. The Irrevocable Trust is often used for Medicaid planning purposes.
- Testamentary Trust is a trust created within a person’s Last Will and Testament
- Supplemental Needs Trust is a trust which is created for persons with a disability to protect the person with the disability while keeping the person eligible to receive government benefits to pay for the cost of his or her medical care.
In a Trust, the property is conveyed to a person or institution that serves as trustee. The trustee is legally bound to adhere to the terms of a legal document known as the Trust Instrument. The trustee is only empowered to manage the property in the way the Trust Instrument permits.
In a Revocable Trust, you are often the beneficiary and trustee while you are alive. You completely control the trust. The Revocable Trust is then controlled by whomever you direct at the time of your incapacity or death.