Long Island Trust Lawyers Helping You Protect Your Assets
When you think about the legacy you are going to leave behind, you may think about the memories you have created with your family and friends and how you want to be remembered. But it is equally important to think about the financial legacy you will leave behind. Having a life insurance policy with the correct family members named as beneficiaries is a good first step, but when it comes to protecting your assets, you may need a more in-depth plan.
A law firm that creates trusts can help you understand how you can use this estate planning tool to ensure assets go directly to your surviving spouse or other family members without worrying about the New York probate process. A trust can also help you lower estate taxes.
When you are looking for a law firm to represent your interests and provide legal counsel, you need a team who prioritizes the attorney-client relationship and is going to work for your best interests. And that is exactly what we do at MontanaroLaw P.C. We also offer a free consultation so you can learn more about our processes and how we can help, whether that’s something as simple as updating who is listed as a trustee or it means creating an entirely new estate plan.
What Is a Trusts Lawyer?
Many people think of criminal or civil law when they hear the term lawyer, but there is a lot more to the legal world than that. A trust lawyer is part of the elder law category and works to help clients create, alter, and revoke trusts.
A trusts lawyer can explain the different types of trusts available and help you decide which one is the right fit for your needs. They help you set up the trusts, including ensuring all of the paperwork is filled out correctly and that all New York state requirements are fulfilled.
Do I Need a New York Estate Lawyer?
While it is possible to draw up your own estate plan and make those arrangements on your own in the state of New York, it is not advisable. Many people think that all they need to ensure their wishes are in place is to create a last will and testament or name their beneficiaries. But this often leads to disputes over the validity of a will or an estate plan that is vague and unclear, so it is difficult to execute. This can result in ongoing court hearings and make an already difficult process even more stressful.
If you want to ensure that you have the most thorough asset protection possible when it comes to creating trusts and drawing up an estate plan, it’s important to have the counsel of an experienced trust attorney. They know the right questions to ask to ensure that the documents accurately reflect your wishes and are the best option for your assets.
A trust lawyer also does all of the paperwork for you — and estate plans involve a lot of paperwork — so all you have to do is explain your wishes and then sign the final paperwork.
What Is a Trust?
A trust is a popular estate planning tool that many people use to ensure that their trust assets get to the right beneficiaries in the manner they want them to, without having to go through the lengthy probate process that happens with wills. Trusts are also a way to lower the estate taxes that happen when you leave an inheritance, which can be helpful for your beneficiaries, such as a surviving spouse, and ensure more of your assets are going where they were intended to go.
However, a trust isn’t suitable for every situation. Trusts are more complex estate planning documents, and that means they are more expensive to have created as well. Trusts are especially helpful for people who want to make sure that minor children or dependents with special needs are provided for after the person is no longer there to take care of them.
What Are the Different Kinds of Trusts?
When you are creating your estate plan and deciding how you want to pass on your estate assets to your family members and other beneficiaries, it’s important to understand the different types of trusts that are available. A New York trust lawyer can walk you through these options, explain the difference in depth, and provide counsel on which one is right for you. Below, we’ve provided a brief overview of the four main trust types involved in most estate plans.
A living trust is one of the most common trusts created for an estate plan. It is named a living trust because it is created while the person setting up the trust is still alive. The person who creates the trust is referred to as the grantor or trustor. The person who is in charge of making sure the assets in the trust are dispersed according to the trustor’s wishes is called the trustee.
Many people choose to use living trusts for asset protection because a trust does not have to go through the probate process. The trust grants the trustee legal rights to the assets held in the trust, so they can start to disperse them immediately upon the trustor’s death.
A revocable trust is a type of trust that can be changed or completely dissolved if the trustor chooses. This allows the trustor to change what property or assets are included in the trust. The trustor can also choose to remove all of the assets in the trust and sell them for personal income or change the terms of the trust or the named beneficiaries.
A revocable trust may be a good option if you anticipate that your wishes or financial standing might change. For example, parents may establish a revocable trust to ensure that their children are provided for in the case of the parent’s death. This allows them to easily cancel the trust once the children are adults if they choose.
Just like the name indicates, an irrevocable trust is a trust that cannot be easily changed by the trustor. Once the terms and assets are set and the trust is created, the trustor cannot change the terms, the beneficiaries, or what assets are included in an irrevocable trust. Any changes must be approved by the beneficiary.
While irrevocable trusts have some positives, it’s important to understand exactly what these entail and their permanency before choosing this option. A trust lawyer can ensure that you are aware of what an irrevocable trust means for your assets and estate plan and help you create one that accurately reflects your wishes.
While a living trust is created prior to the person’s death, a testamentary trust is a trust that is created afterward and is tied directly to instructions left in the person’s last will and testament. The will gives direction to create the trust and includes instructions on who the beneficiary or beneficiaries should be and what assets should be included.
Testamentary trusts can be more complicated, and it’s important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney about how to set forth instructions for creating one within your will.
What Estate Planning Documents Are Part of a Trust?
When you create a trust in the state of New York, you need several documents to ensure the trust is created properly and contains all of the information needed so that it can be executed properly after the trustor’s passing. When you are creating a trust, it’s important to have all of the documentation your attorney will need to begin setting up the paperwork. This could include any or all of the following:
- Statements, including account numbers and the contact information for the financial institutions, for any checking or savings accounts
- Liens, titles, and deeds for real estate holdings or vehicles
- Paperwork related to the stocks, bonds, and other investment accounts
- Any documents related to interests in small business, including partnership/ownership documents or company shares
- Intellectual property documents for patents, copyrights, or artwork
- Purchase receipts or provenance documents for high-value art or antique furniture
- Documentation for the contents of small-item collections, such as stamps or coins
Keep in mind that you can change what is included for most trust options, so if you sell a piece of real estate or acquire something later that you want to pass on, you can update the trust as needed.
How Do I Find a Good Trusts Lawyer?
Finding a good trust attorney in the New York area can be difficult because there are many firms to consider. But that does not mean that they are all created equal. It is important to ensure that any attorney you are considering working with has experience in creating trusts, especially if you want a specific kind of trust or have a complex estate that requires a unique approach. Here are a few questions to ask when you’re talking with a lawyer to see if they are a good fit for you:
- What is their experience with an estate plan that involves trusts?
- Do they use templated documents, or are they able to create something custom?
- What size estates and assets have they represented before?
- How do they communicate with clients?
- How long can you expect the process to take?
- Who do you talk to if you have questions along the way?
- How much do they charge, and at what point in the process is the money due?
When you are talking with a trust attorney and getting answers to these questions, you should feel like you are actively listened to and that any concerns and issues you have are being taken seriously. If anyone on the team seems dismissive or isn’t able to give you concrete answers, it might be best to consider other options.
Learn More About MontanaroLaw P.C.’s Services
At MontanaroLaw P.C., we know that getting your estate plan together and creating a trust to protect your assets is something that can be hard to manage on your own. We can help you better understand what the New York requirements are for trusts and what the right trust is for your specific estate needs. We can help you devise a plan that helps limit the amount of estate taxes your beneficiaries will have to pay, and we always put the attorney-client relationship and clear communication at the forefront of our interactions.
If you are ready to start getting your estate plan in order, including creating one or more trusts, we are here to help. Find out more about our team and services, or schedule a free consultation by calling our law firm at (516) 809-7735.