New York Wills & Trust Lawyer
A major part of estate planning is creating a will and establishing trusts so everyone you care about is provided for. A wills and trusts lawyer in New York can help you continue to protect your loved ones once you’re gone by providing estate assistance.
What’s the Difference Between a Will and a Trust?
Think of wills and trusts as two sides of the same coin: both function together in a complete estate plan, but they serve different purposes. For example, a will goes into effect after you pass away, however a trust takes effect as soon as you establish it.
In terms of legal steps, a will must pass through probate where a court makes sure your will is valid and can be distributed according to your instructions.
A trust, on the other hand, does not have to go through probate court, meaning it can remain private and your loved ones can have direct access to your estate immediately.
What is a Will?
A will is a legal document that instructs who will receive your property and assets once you die, appointing a legal representative to make sure your wishes are honored.
In New York, if you pass away and don’t possess a will, your assets are subject to the statewide law of intestate succession. This law contains rigid and strict rules regarding the distribution of your assets among your close family members. The government attempts fairness with a blanket division no matter what your family situation.
This isn’t to your benefit. You know what your family needs, and their idea of distribution often won’t cut it. Creating a will protects your family from government interference after you’re gone, and taking inventory of what you own is a great first step. This includes your stocks, your real estate, and other properties.
Uses of a Will
By drafting a will, you are able to ensure certain details that might be skipped over without it. When it finds its way into probate court, your will acts as a testamentary from beyond the grave, giving insight and instruction to the court about your exact wishes.
In regards to family, your will is able to appoint a guardian for your minor-aged children. If your will doesn’t include a guardianship portion, your living relatives will have to petition the probate courts to decide who will take guardianship over your children. This might mean a person is appointed who might not be your idea of trustworthy choice.
If you need to disinherit a spouse or child, a will is one of the only ways to legally make it possible.
Different Types of Wills
A living will is a legal document that details your wishes for medical care at the end of your life if you can’t speak on your own behalf. This allows you to maintain control of your life, future, and health even through serious injury or illness. You can also name a medical power of attorney.
This is a document created by two people who leave their assets to one another, such as a married couple. When one spouse dies, the entire estate goes to the other and when they then pass on everything goes to a third person the couple decided upon together.
This is a will without any clauses of stipulations. Simple and straightforward, this is the least complicated will, but the easiest to misinterpret.
What is a Trust?
A trust, on the other hand, in which one person, bank, or law firm is named a “trustee” and holds a title or deed to property for a “beneficiary”, which is anyone you choose to name. A trust can be used to give property to your beneficiary over time before your death.
Different Types of Trusts
A living trust is a legal document that places your assets into your own care until you pass away, when they will be distributed.
Revocable Living Trusts
A revocable living trust is much the same, however you can change it at any given point over the course of your life. These are changeable, and if something happens you can also cancel it completely.
A charitable trust benefits a particular charity or your community in a more general sense. These are usually put in place as just one part of an estate in order to lower estate and gift tax.
Why Do You Need a Trust If You Have a Will?
It might seem like a will can cover all your needs, however many family members are taken by surprise after the death of a loved one. A will has to go through probate courts in order to determine the legitimacy and distribution of assets.
Probate court takes time, money, and energy that many grieving survivors can’t afford either financially or emotionally. Thankfully, a trust doesn’t need to go through the court system. Your family is able to skip that lengthy process and immediately gain access to your specified assets. A trust also goes into effect while you’re living, making it more easily changeable in case circumstances change.
Why Do You Need a New York Wills and Trusts Lawyer?
Every state has their own set of laws and regulations for wills, trusts, and estates overall. A New York lawyer has years of experience handling estates according to the specific laws of that area. There are often unexpected issues that appear when planning your estate; it’s a smart idea to hire a New York-specific lawyer to handle your needs. Kyle Steller, a New York wills and trusts lawyer, is one such expert who is ready and able to assist with planning your family’s future.
Contact a New York Wills and Trust Lawyer
The future can be uncertain, but creating wills and establishing a will and trusts allows you and your family to prepare. Contact the Law Offices of Kyle A. Stellar today to get started and we’ll be happy to assist you on your estate planning. Peace of mind is only a call away.
What to Ask a Wills and Trusts Lawyer
Despite the complicated ins and outs of estate law, there are a few baseline things you can ask your lawyer to establish common ground.
The average cost of a will can be anywhere from $300 to $1,000 depending on the complexity of your situation. A trust costs another $1,000 or more, but is a powerful tool that’s worth its weight in gold.
Although you could pay $150 or so to create an online will yourself, more often than not they’re harder to hold up in probate court. It may be cheaper now, but it’ll be a detrimental cost to your family if it has any errors.
Your estate contains your accumulated assets throughout the years, but that doesn’t mean you can include everything in your will. There are some specific topics and properties that cannot be divvied out at the time of your death.
Your wishes for your funeral should be discussed with your family ahead of time, since they cannot be held accountable for it in probate court. Your body isn’t considered property, so it can’t be part of your estate. Talk with your family or someone you trust ahead of time to make sure your wishes are met.
Gifting your e-books or other online cloud-based accounts also cannot be held up in court. Digital law still has a long way to go, and there’s no enforceable way to make sure your music library ends up in the correct hands. However, you are able to bequeath passwords and usernames themselves.
Jointly held property is given to the survivor in full, your life insurance plan and retirement fund require a beneficiary ahead of time, and you cannot include anything illegal such as drugs.
That all depends: what kind of trust do you have? The two most popular kinds each have a different answer.
If you have a testamentary trust working in tandem with your will, the will supersedes. Because a testamentary trust is made under and part of the will, it actually cannot exist until you pass on and the will is activated.
Living trusts are different. They’re established while the estate owner lives, and when they transfer assets and real estate into the trust, it’s no longer considered part of their property. When the creator passes on, the assets under the trust cannot be touched by the will, since it only covers what they actually own.
There are many kinds of wills and trusts with their own different pitfalls when they conflict. Asking a New York lawyer about your options is the best way to avoid those disagreements.
Although a trust gives you complete estate coverage when paired with a will, there are some cons to be aware of and consider.
Trusts offer no tax benefits, and in fact doesn’t negate income and estate taxes. If you’re not careful and don’t use appropriate tax reduction measures, your assets could be extremely reduced.
If you owe money to creditors, it’s worth mentioning that a revocable trust, although flexible and preferred, won’t protect your estate. You would want to consider using an irrevocable trust instead, although it cannot be changed once you create it.
Transferring legal titles can be a repetitive but necessary process in order to use your trust to its fullest extent. This can be time consuming, especially if you own a large amount of assets. However a New York lawyer, such as Kyle Steller, can take the lion’s share of burden off your hands.