Archive for the ‘wills’ category

WAYS TO AVOID PROBATE COURT

July 19, 2013

It’s possible to keep assets that transfer because of death out of probate court.   If you do this, a probate court judge (New York State calls them a “Surrogate’s Court Judge”) will not be involved in your estate.  This is true whether you die with or without a Will. There can be many advantages to avoiding Surrogate’s Court:  less expense for court filing fees and attorney fees; less exposure of your assets to claims of creditors; faster distribution of assets; and greater privacy.

There are simple ways to keep your post-death financial transactions out of a probate court.   These include: (a) owning assets as a joint tenant so that the survivor becomes the owner by operation of law (often done with real estate and bank accounts); (b) naming beneficiaries and contingent beneficiaries (for example, life insurance and IRAs); and (c) using TOD (Transfer on Death) accounts.

Less simple ways to keep assets out of probate court include transferring them  during your life to a revocable or an irrevocable trust and transferring your home to children with the reservation of your right to live in your home as long as you choose (a so-called “life estate”).  In addition to keeping assets out of probate court, these types of transfers can increase the certainty that what you want will to happen does happen and avoid the need to pay for nursing home care privately in order to spend down assets to achieve Medicaid eligibility.

 If you’re interested in avoiding estate probate, the lawyers at Bansbach Zoghlin P.C. can help you.

THINK OF THE LIVING: ESTATE PLANNING

June 3, 2013

Estate planning benefits you and people you care about during and after your life. It is far more than making a Will that distributes your assets after you die.

You benefit during your life by appointing an agent under a Power of Attorney to make financial decisions. This lets you choose a trusted relative or friend to make decisions for you if you are disabled and avoids the need for a court to appoint a guardian for you.

You benefit during your life by appointing a proxy under a Health Care Proxy to make medical decisions. This lets you select a trusted relative or friend to make medical decisions if you are unable and avoids the need for a court to appoint a guardian for you.

Minor children or disabled persons you care about benefit from your estate planning. You can appoint a caring guardian to raise minor children and a financially responsible trustee to make their money decisions. This avoids a court appointing the guardian and trustee. You can make disabled children and adults beneficiaries of a special type of trust (a supplemental needs trust). A special needs trust will provide money for experiences and creature comforts the disabled person might not otherwise have and will not disqualify them from receiving governmental benefits.

People who will pay the expenses of your estate benefit when you plan for what will be owed and where estate tax, probate expenses, lawyer’s’ fees, accountant’s’ fees, funeral and burial expenses will come from.

People who handle your end-of-life affairs benefit when you make funeral and burial arrangements and state who will get what items of property with sentimental value. Items with sentimental value may be worth more to your heirs than their dollar value would suggest. Planning removes uncertainty about what you want and can make it easier to accomplish what you want.

Finally, planning will make it more likely your money and assets will go to the persons you choose. Planning can reduce the amount of your assets that go to pay nursing home expense, make it easier to earlier qualify for Medicaid, reduce estate taxes, and increase the likelihood that what you leave will not be squandered but will achieve good.