If you’ve completed your Last Will and Testament, put the finishing touches on your power of attorney and advance directive, and sealed the deal on your retirement and long-term care planning, it’s still possible that your estate plan is missing something. Have you considered whether a living trust might be of benefit to your plan? If not, then you could be missing out on one of the most popular and powerful estate planning tools in use today. You should consult with a New York trust lawyer to see whether a living trust can help to resolve some of your most pressing special needs.
Is a Trust Right for You?
Of course, you first want to consider whether you might be able to benefit from a trust. After all, some estates are simple enough that trusts are basically overkill. For many individuals and families, however, trusts are the key to customizing their estates in ways that solve problems that the will alone cannot properly manage. For example:
- Do you have concerns that your loved ones’ inheritance might somehow not remain in the family? If so, a trust can help you to add protections to those bequests to ensure that your family wealth stays in the family to benefit future generations for years to come.
- Is one of your heirs a bit of a spendthrift, with creditors constantly knocking on his door? Do you have fears that he’ll squander his inheritance and end up destitute when you’re gone? There are trust provisions that can help to avoid that irresponsible behavior and ensure that the money you leave him has a positive impact on his life rather than just paying ill-considered debts.
- Have you been wondering how your special needs child will get along when you’re gone? You probably realize that any money you leave her in a direct bequest could end up making her ineligible for those government medical benefits she needs. With a special needs trust, you can leave her the inheritance she needs, but do so in a way that protects her benefit eligibility.
- Have you given any thought to what happens to your beloved animal companions after you’re gone? Far too many pets end up being sent off to shelters or worse destinations when their owners die, simply because no one ever bothered to make arrangements for their care. There’s a trust that can ensure that your pet has everything he or she needs to live life to the fullest even after your death.
- Do you have charitable organizations that rely on your support to do their good works? Were you thinking about leaving them a bequest in your will? There are trusts that can maximize your giving to those groups while also providing you with valuable tax benefits and estate management opportunities.
- Are estate taxes a concern? Certain types of trusts can provide you with greater flexibility to manage those tax issues and ensure that more of your hard-earned wealth gets passed on to your loved ones rather than being sent to the government.
There are many other reasons why you might need a trust, of course – including that most popular of motivations: the desire to keep your estate out of probate. Your will won’t help your family avoid the costs and time involved in probating your estate when you’re gone, but trusts can. By providing a legal way to distribute your assets without the involvement of a court, your trust can ensure that your heirs receive more of their inheritance without waiting the months or years that it can take for probate to be completed.
Worried that Your Estate Isn’t Large Enough for a Trust?
Like many people, you may hear the word “trust” and assume that your estate is just too small to warrant that sort of estate planning strategy. The total value of your estate is not the only thing to consider, however. Though trusts were once used almost exclusively by the super-wealthy, they are becoming more and more common as new trust strategies continue to evolve to meet our changing needs. You may not have billions of dollars to protect, but that doesn’t mean that the wealth that you do have shouldn’t be safeguarded using the most powerful tools estate planners have at their disposal.
For example, if you have a house, life insurance, vehicles, bank and retirement accounts, and assorted other items of value, then you have an estate that may be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you also own your own business, then that estate value could be significantly higher. Given that the probate process could reduce that value by a sizeable amount of money once court costs and attorney fees are factored into the equation, it’s at least worth considering whether your loved ones might be better off receiving their inheritance from a trust rather than through a court process.
And if you choose a revocable trust, you can even maintain control over your own assets by naming yourself as the trustee. That benefit can be especially important for people who are reluctant to sign over ownership of their wealth to a trust that they cannot control. You simply name someone you trust to serve as your successor trustee in the event that anything happens to you, and continue to manage your own wealth in the meantime.
Rely on an Experienced Trust Attorney to Maximize Your Benefits
No matter how complete your estate plan might seem on the surface, there’s a good chance that it can be enhanced with a living trust. To take advantage of the benefits that a trust can offer you, however, you need to work with a New York trust lawyer with a proven track record of success. At the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C., our commitment to our client’s success is second to none. We’ll help you design the trusts you need to create a comprehensive estate plan that can meet all your end-of-life and legacy goals. To find out more about our trust services, contact us online or give us a call at (914) 939-6565 today.