We would like to thank our neighbors in Hartsdale for visiting our website. If you are looking for a licensed estate planning attorney in Westchester County, you have found a reliable local resource. Located in Greenburgh, Hartsdale is a suburb of New York City with a population of just over 5,000.
Serving Our Neighbors in Hartsdale
The probate and estate planning attorneys at the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C., take our commitment to our neighbors in Hartsdale to heart. So, we want to offer a bit of information about what you should expect following the death of a loved one. You may envision a scene that you have seen on television or in a movie. After a funeral, family members gather at someone’s home. Certain people are called aside, and they enter a book-lined study. Someone is sitting behind a desk, and everyone’s attention is riveted on this person. This is the individual that is going to “read the will.”
The implication is that things will begin and end in this room. Everyone will know the wishes of the deceased, and assets will be distributed by this “reader of the will.” In reality, things are quite a bit different. When you maintain direct ownership of your property up until the time of your death, the estate must be probated. The executor of the estate that you nominated in the will would admit the will to probate.
What Does the Probate Process Involve?
Probate is the legal process of estate administration. The probate court would look over the will to determine its validity. This court would be charged with the responsibility of supervising the administration of the estate. There are some pitfalls that go along with this process. It can be expensive, it can be time-consuming, and it is a public proceeding that strips your family of privacy. If you have questions about probate, let our Westchester County estate planning attorneys know.
The Benefits of Revocable Living Trusts
You could arrange for the transfer of your property to your heirs outside of probate through the creation of a revocable living trust. The grantor is the person who creates the trust. As the grantor, you fund the trust with the assets that make up your estate. The trustee that you choose distributes the assets to the beneficiaries after you die in accordance with your wishes as stated in the trust agreement. These distributions will take place in a timely manner because they are not subject to the process of probate.
Using Living Trusts for Asset Protection
Now that we have provided the necessary background, we can get into the question of asset protection. Let’s say that you have created a revocable living trust to facilitate probate avoidance. You may wonder if the assets that you have conveyed into the trust are protected from creditors and claimants. In fact, the assets that have been funded into the revocable living trust would not be protected from attachment. This is because you are retaining incidents of ownership when you create a revocable living trust.
Must I Surrender Control of My Assets?
You are not required to surrender control of assets that you transfer into a revocable living trust. After all, as the name states, you can revoke or rescind the trust at any time. In addition, you can act as the beneficiary and the trustee while you are still alive and well.
Because you maintain this ongoing control, assets that have been conveyed into a revocable living trust are not protected from attachment. If you are the target of a lawsuit they would be in play. The same thing is true of a tax lien or a divorce proceeding. In addition, assets that have been conveyed into a revocable living trust would be looked upon as part of your taxable estate by the Internal Revenue Service.
Which Asset Protection Strategies Should I Use?
All is not lost if you are looking for asset protection. There are certain types of trusts that will provide asset protection, both for you and for people who are on your inheritance list. There are also irrevocable trusts. With irrevocable trusts, you do surrender incidents of ownership. You cannot revoke this type of trust. As a result, generally speaking, assets that have been conveyed into an irrevocable trust are protected. There are also business entities that can be used to protect assets, including family limited partnerships and limited liability companies or LLCs.
If you have questions regarding estate planning matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C. for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (914) 939-6565. We are here to help!