It is important to take the right steps in advance to make sure that your family is protected if something happens to you. Nobody would argue with that statement, but surveys that are conducted find that most people do not have any estate planning documents in place.
Procrastination can set in, even if you know that you should create a will or a trust to protect your loved ones. This is understandable to some extent, but at some point, it is time to take action. If you don’t, you are tempting fate, and there are no guarantees.
Don’t Let the State Decide
If you die without a will or a trust, the Surrogate’s Court would step in to sort things out. A personal representative would be appointed to handle all the details, and the court would oversee the process. After the court closes the estate, the assets would be distributed under the laws of the state.
We are not going to get into every possible situation here, but your own true wishes may not be carried out if the state decides how your assets are going to be distributed. People that you love could be disinherited, or they may get less than what you would have provided for them.
There is no reason to take any chances when the stakes are so high. It is simple to connect with our firm, have a good discussion, and work with us to put the ideal plan in place.
Last Will Alternatives
There is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all estate plan that is right for everyone. A lot of people think that a last will is the best way to go unless you are very wealthy. This is really not true, because there are trusts that can be ideal for many people that are not millionaires.
One of them is the living trust, and this is an estate planning tool that is perfect for a wide range of families. You do not have to worry about losing control of the assets that you sign over to the trust, because you could act as the trustee and the beneficiary while you are living.
This would be a revocable trust, so you would have the ability to dissolve the trust entirely if you ever choose to do so. You would then regain direct personal possession of the assets that you put into the trust.
In the trust agreement, you name a trustee to administer the trust after you are gone, and your heirs would be beneficiaries. After your passing, the trustee would follow your instructions and efficiently distribute the assets.
The court would not be involved, so there would be no lengthy delays. You could also include protections for people that may not be good with money. Plus, you could name a disability trustee to manage the trust if you become incapacitated late in your life.
Special Needs Planning
In addition to the living trust, there are other types of trusts that can be used to address certain circumstances. For example, people with disabilities often rely on Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. These are need-based benefits, so there are asset limits.
If you want to help a loved one that is in this situation, you could establish a special needs trust. Assets in the trust could be used to make the beneficiary more comfortable, and benefit eligibility would not be impacted.
Avoid DIY Wills and Trusts
There are websites that sell generic legal documents, including wills and trusts. Consumer Reports conducted a study to see if this was a good way to go. They got three legal professors to look at sample wills they created using tools that are sold by three of these sites.
After they heard the feedback, they advised their readers to steer clear of do-it-yourself estate planning unless the situation is really simple and straightforward.
Protect Your Loved Ones!
You will definitely feel a lot better if you put an estate plan in place to make sure that your family is protected. We know that it can be difficult to discuss personal matters with someone that you have just met, and we take this to heart when we work with our clients.
If you are ready to set up a consultation appointment, you can give us a call at 212-973-0100. We also have a contact form on this website that you can use if you would rather send us a message.