There are a variety of options that a person should consider when proceeding with estate planning. Each person’s situation is unique, and estate planning is not “one size fits all.” For individuals with assets, a living trust, also known as a revocable trust, is one option that they may want to explore.
A living trust is a tool that helps people manage their estates during their lifetimes. Individuals may modify or terminate these trusts at any time prior to death.
An elderly individual may find this tool useful in anticipation of disability or dependence on others. Under the terms of a living trust, if a person becomes incapacitated, the assets are readily available to him or to designated loved ones. A living trust also offers an elderly person peace of mind that, in the event of her death, loved ones will have rapid access to the trust’s assets. This is so because, unlike wills that must go through probate (a court process by which a will is administered upon a person’s death), a living trust avoids probate. This is an important consideration for New York residents where probate can be complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. This is not a key consideration in New Jersey where probate is relatively straightforward and inexpensive.
Living Trusts may be particularly advantageous for people holding assets such as real estate outside of their home states. By placing such assets in trust, probate can be avoided in those other states.
While living trusts may offer significant advantages for certain individuals, they are not for everyone. When considering this option, make sure that you and your attorney discuss your unique situation. How much time will it take and how much will it cost to transfer your assets into a living trust? Are there tax advantages or disadvantages associated with such trusts? Will these assets be considered part of your “available” estate when applying for Medicaid? These are just a few examples of important questions that you and your attorney should explore.
Getting Legal Help
Estate planning can be complicated. Experienced Estate Planning Attorney, Elga Goodman, can guide you through the process, help you understand your options, and can prepare a comprehensive estate plan that relects your unique needs and wishes. Contact us today at 973-841-5111.
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