One of the first steps in planning and understanding an estate is compiling a complete list of assets. Assets include: investments such as stocks and bonds, insurance policies, retirement savings such as a 401K or individual retirement accounts, real estate and business interests. Ask these three questions when starting to plan your trusts and estates: Who do you want to inherit your assets? Who should handle your financial affairs if you become incapacitated? Finally, Who do you want to make medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself? A New York City trusts and estates lawyer can help you answer these questions.
An essential aspect of any Estate Plan is to fully understand the nature of the assets that may need to be administered in the event of a person's death or incapacity. Some assets, such as bank accounts, may be easy to identify and access by a fiduciary such as an Executor or Administrator. Other assets, such as life insurance and retirement funds, may have designated beneficiaries who may have rights to receive these items notwithstanding provisions in a Trust or Will that provide for disposition to different beneficiaries. The many issues involved with planning and managing Trusts and Estates can be complex and the assistance of a Trusts and Estates lawyer in New York City can be essential. Another important part of an estate plan is the selection of beneficiaries. Such persons can be named as the specific recipients on insurance or retirement plans. Of course, a Last Will needs to contain the names of the persons who will receive a decedent's estate. It is essential to designate primary beneficiaries as well as secondary beneficiaries in case the primary designee predeceases the decedent. A Will and other documents that dispose of property after death should always provide for these contingencies. In the event a secondary beneficiary is not named, a person's property may end up being distributed according to statutory rules in a manner that does not reflect the intentions of the decedent.
In some instances the use of a testamentary substitute such as a Living Trust may be beneficial. A Living Trust allows for the post-death distribution of assets and contains essentially the same type of beneficiary directions provided in a Last Will. However, the Living Trust does not need to go through the probate process to become effective. Also, in order for assets to be disposed of according to the trust provisions, the title of the asset must be changed so that they are owned in the name of the trust prior to death. Therefore, bank accounts and real estate must be held in the trust name for the trust directions to apply to these items.
As a New York City trusts and estates attorney, I have many years of experience working with and advising clients in the planning and creation trusts and estates that effectively express my clients’ personal desires regarding these important questions. I work to make sure that your trusts and estates plans are both sound and in accordance with your wishes.
Trusts and estates are also the subject of probate and court proceedings. I have worked with many clients on trusts and estate matters including probate, administration, accountings and estate and trust settlement. I have helped clients throughout New York including representation in Manhattan Probate, Queens Probate and Long Island Probate.
Today, more than anything, I enjoy being successful on behalf of a client. I work hard to help clients resolve their legal issues successfully.
For personalized attentive service and a free case evaluation you can contact me by telephone (212) 355-2575, fax (212) 751-5911 or e-mail us to set up an appointment with a trusts and estates attorney in New York City.