Experienced Long Island Wills and Trusts Lawyer Ready To Serve You

What do you Need to Know About Trusts and Wills?

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Depending on your age, the size of your estate, your family structure, your health, and that of your beneficiaries, these documents will play a major role in achieving your trust and will goals. The respected Long Island trusts lawyer at the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin, P.C. will work with you to determine which documents are best suited to achieve your goals. Contact us today.

Last Will and Testament

Your Will has two primary purposes.

  • First, parents of minor children can name a guardian to care for those children in the future
  • Second, a Will lets you determine how your assets will be distributed.

Without a will, New York State will make these decisions for you. The only way to have peace of mind about your children and your assets is to create a Will.

Upon your passing, your Last Will & Testament will be admitted to Probate whereupon the Court will appoint an Executor of your Estate. The Executor is then responsible for administering your estate according to your Will. Contact our Long Island wills attorney to answer your questions.

Defining Trusts

A Trust is a legal entity that an individual creates during their life or upon their death. The trust can own assets such as a home, bank, brokerage account, CD, or life insurance policy. There are several kinds of trusts and each serves a slightly different purpose:

Kind of Trusts

Revocable or Living Trusts

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Revocable Trusts can be used to avoid probate. They are especially helpful for clients who own property in multiple states and who wish to create a complex plan of distribution. They can also be used for those with an estate in excess of one million dollars to limit an estate tax liability or those in second marriages who wish to make necessary provisions to protect their families.

Irrevocable Trusts

Used to protect assets against the cost of long-term care, including the cost of a home health aide or nursing home. By implementing an Irrevocable Trust you may be eligible for Medicaid benefits. To learn more, speak with our Long Island wills attorney.

Supplemental Needs Trusts

Used to provide for the needs of another individual who is disabled and receives or may receive SSI or Medicaid. Assets in the Supplemental Needs Trust can be used for the benefit of the individual but it does not affect that person’s eligibility for SSI and Medicaid.

Life Insurance Trusts

A life insurance trust is a living trust that holds a life insurance policy on your life so that when you die, the proceeds go to the trust itself as the policy beneficiary. The proceeds can then be distributed to the trust beneficiary by the trustee as specified in the trust document. A life insurance trust can carry significant tax benefits if it is set up as an irrevocable trust. It is even possible to set it up so that the life insurance proceeds are not taxed at all. Let an experienced Long Island trusts attorney help you.

Credit Shelter Trusts

The Credit Shelter Trust is used primarily for wealthy people to avoid the IRS estate tax when they die. This is not a concern for most people since the estate tax is not levied on the first $11.4 million of an estate’s value (as of 2019).

Credit Shelter Trust needs to be irrevocable. Although the income it generates after your death will be passed on to your spouse for life, your spouse will be entitled to draw from the principal under certain circumstances. When your spouse dies, the assets held in the trust will not be counted toward the estate tax exemption – and that is the main purpose of establishing a Credit Shelter Trust. Speak with our Long Island trusts attorney to assist you.

Qualified Personal Residence Trusts (QPRT)

Qualified Personal Residence Trust (QPRT) is another device that is designed to avoid estate taxes. A QPRT is an irrevocable trust that holds title to a residence. The residence does not have to be your primary residence, but the trust can be set up to allow you to live there even though, strictly speaking, it is the trust that owns the residence, not you personally. The QPRT is used to avoid the IRS gift tax.

Minor Trusts

A minor trust is a testamentary trust that you set up in case you die with minor children who are your dependents. It takes effect only after you die, and assets are distributed by your trustee to your minor children in the manner you specify in the trust document. When the child reaches a certain age (21 or 25, for example, depending on the terms of the trust document), the remaining trust assets can be distributed directly to your children.

The purpose of a minor trust is to avoid leaving money to beneficiaries who are too young to manage it properly. It can also be set up to avoid gift taxes. Talk to our Long Island trusts lawyer to have more information.

Spendthrift Trusts

If you have an adult child with financial issues or simply want to provide them with an income stream for a period of time, a spendthrift trust will allow you to protect any possible inheritance from their creditors and provide them with a structured plan of distribution. Our Long Island wills lawyer can help you learn more information.

Contact our Long Island Trusts Lawyer

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Contact me online to schedule an appointment with our Long Island trusts attorney.

Our experienced legal practitioner also handles other types of cases, including:

Our Long Island wills lawyer is available to meet with you at your home or my office.

FAQ Answers – Wills and Trusts

What Happens If You Don’t Update Your Trust Documents?

It depends. If you don’t update your trust documents, some scenarios can play out depending on the circumstances. Perhaps nothing will happen, or your beneficiaries could have to turn to probate to obtain assets. For instance, a simple example can be if your trust states, “all residential property goes to X.” Then whether you sell or buy more residential property before your passing, it doesn’t matter if you updated your trust because the language is written as such that it does not require a specific naming. 

However, if you add assets to your trust and do not indicate what will become of those upon your death, your beneficiaries may have to turn to probate to transfer property not included in your trust.

What Happens If You Don’t Have a Will?

If you do not have a will at your death, the state of New York decides who receives your property and assets according to the intestacy laws. The New York intestacy statute was created for this very purpose: to dictate what will happen to assets upon a person’s death if they do not have a will. 

The distributees or family members who may be entitled to a share of the estate will depend on the decedent’s living relatives at the time of death.

Typically, the intestacy distribution will go as follows:

  • If the decedent has a spouse but no children, then the spouse takes everything;
  • If the decedent has children but no spouse, then the children take everything;
  • If the decedent has a spouse and children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half of the balance, and the children inherit what is left;
  • If the decedent has parents but no spouse or children, then the parents get everything; and
  • Lastly, if the decedent has siblings but no parents, spouse, or children, then the siblings inherit everything. 

If the decedent’s children die before them and they have grandchildren, they may inherit. 

You may not want one or more of these individuals to inherit, or you may wish for someone else to inherit your entire estate. This is why it is crucial to have a will to dictate your precise wishes in the event of your death. 

Are Handwritten or Oral Wills Enforceable in New York?

Generally, in New York, wills are required to be in writing. However, there are exceptions in which a holographic (written) or nuncupative (oral) will be acceptable. Typically, for either a handwritten or verbal will to be legally recognized and enforceable, it must be under one of three circumstances:

  • The individual is on active duty in the military or naval service,
  • A civil servant accompanying the military or naval service during a war or armed conflict, or
  • A mariner while at sea.

To be valid in New York, the verbal or handwritten will must fit the relevant definition under the law and be made by a qualifying individual. To learn more about the specific requirements, contact our team.