Manhattan Estate Planning Attorney: The Basics

In New York, there is more to estate planning than meets the eye. In Manhattan, such planning also involves minimizing taxes, maximizing government benefits and taking care of your long term wishes. Many questions may arise when thinking about planning your estate, especially in such a big city.

Who is Estate Planning For?

There is often a common misconception that estate planning is for specific groups of people, those of which are either old, rich, or both. However, that is not an accurate way of thinking. Whether or not you are well off financially, or are young, you should always have an estate plan in place. This will be beneficial to minimize the taxes on your estate, as well as having document prepared to make sure your assets are taken care of, as well as other functions.

Preparing a Last Will and Testament in Manhattan

A will is an essential part of any estate plan. It is a vital legal document that designates the distribution of your assets, after death, to specific people. You can decide who inherits your assets and particular times when they can access them. It is advised to hire a reliable attorney who can guide you through the process of creating a will. Contrary to popular belief, creating a will is necessary not just for the wealthy but is recommended for anyone who wants to secure their property, ensure a future for their kids, and avoid familial conflict after death.Even if you may have a small savings account and an old car, a properly executed will allows you to choose the individuals who will receive your property after your death. A will include your designation of an executor – who will carry out the provisions of the will, the beneficiaries- who are inheriting the assets, and instructions for the distribution of the assets.  Additionally, a will appoints the guardians of your minor children so that they are protected in the event the worst comes to fruition.

Does a New York Attorney Need to Handle My Estate

One may believe that their personal situation does not require the help of an attorney, especially since this can be an expensive process. However, attorneys can actually help you save unnecessary fees by giving you the proper guidelines to certain application processes. They are also well-versed in what legal rules are necessary when filling out various documents, so they will ensure that everything is done in a proper manner. State laws that regard crafting a will and other estate planning documents can be complicated, which is where an attorney steps in. Not knowing the requirements can lead to legal complications down the road, which is not ideal for anyone involved. If your estate planning is complex, it is especially important to consider that you may be taking on more than you can handle. Everyone has different life circumstances, and some of these may make it difficult to draft a standard trust. For example, one may want to leave their spouse part of their estate, but only under a certain condition. Estate taxes should also be considered when creating a trust, since it will be best for your beneficiaries to have to pay less taxes once you are gone.

What is a Manhattan Estate Planning Attorney?

Quite simply, a good estate planning attorney will make the process easier for you, and will make sure to ask questions that will better help you execute your wishes. They should ask you what it is that you want to achieve with your will. Some things they may want to know are how important tax issues are to you, meaning how vital it is to you whether you are to paying high taxes or not. An attorney will also want to know whether or not you have children with special needs, if you plan to pay for your children or grandchildren’s college tuition, etc. Such questions will help lead them in the right direction by better understanding what you need from a will. After getting a better understanding of your family situation, your attorney can now begin to understand your financial position. The first key step is figuring out what assets you want to pass through the will, as not all of them should. Assets such as life insurance and jointly owned property should pass outside of the will. This is to avoid probate, which is a lengthy and costly process that occurs if such assets are passed through a will. After deciding what assets you want included in your will, your attorney also should figure out if you will owe any estate taxes, which depends on the size of your estate. If they realize that you will owe taxes, they should also help you determine the best way to avoid paying higher rates than necessary. Once you’ve decided what assets you have that are going to pass through a will, you need to decide who will inherit your estate. Your attorney should ask what you want to happen to your assets after you pass. In the case that you decide that you want a minor to be in charge of your estate, your attorney should go over minor trusts as an option. This is a type of trust that leaves assets to a minor, however they are kept with a trustee until the minor reaches a certain age, which is usually when they turn 18 years old. Such an attorney will cover all the bases with you and draft up whichever documents that you decide are necessary.

Manhattan Attorney Fees

There is no set fee for how much an estate planning attorney may cost you, as it varies depending on several factors. Such factors may be the experience that an attorney has, the size of their firm, and the overall complexity of a client’s estate. While this varies in price and may often not be considered cheap, in the long run, it is far more financially convenient to hire an attorney to draft your estate. Hiring an attorney should be seen as an investment and it can save you more money in the long-run despite the up-front cost. There are attorney’s that have consultation fees, but they are usually included as part of the packages if you decide to hire them. You can find some that don’t charge a consultation fee. Some charge by the hour and some charge a flat fee. If your attorney will charge by the hour, then you should speak with them about how long the process will take and calculate the cost. With the extra cost, you are getting much more security in your estate planning. They know more than you know and they will make sure nobody is left out of your wills and trusts and that every precaution is made to protect you and your family.

Questions to Ask your NY Attorney

When meeting with your attorney, it is good to have a few questions prepared such as:

  1. What is the likeliness that my estate will be taxable upon my death?
  2. Will I need a will?
  3. Will I need a trust?
  4. How much are your fees?
  5. Is estate planning your main area of practice?
  6. How do I decide who will be the executor of my will?
  7. How do I decide who will be the trustee in my trust?
  8. Will these documents have to be updated in the future?
  9. Will I need a power of attorney?
  10. Will I need advance directives, such as a health care proxy?

Does A Manhattan Lawyer Prepare Wills and Trusts?

Yes, they do. Of course, you should check with your attorney upon meeting with them as to what kind of documents they can prepare for you.

What is a Will – Manhattan Estate Planning

A will is a legal document that specifies how a person wants their property to be handled after their death. Unlike prenuptial agreements, wills specifically deal with the event of someone’s death. Additionally, wills only apply to the person that wrote the will, unless it is a joint will, which combines two spouses’ will and last testament.

What is a Trust – Manhattan Estate Planning

Trusts are employed by individuals and families to distribute their assets in a fast and cost-efficient way. Shared benefits of all trusts include the conservation of the time and costs associated with probate. In addition, the distribution of assets is carried out swiftly after death, and the privacy that a living trust provides may be a persuasive element not offered by a will.

The Difference Between a Revocable and Irrevocable Trust

The irrevocable trust is simply a trust that one cannot alter having signed off on it. This trust provides a benefit not seen in a revocable trust. All property signed over to the irrevocable trust is no longer the property of the original owner. Instead, the assets are given over to the trustee and beneficiaries. This crucial aspect of an irrevocable trust is that it gives all property listed under it tax-exempt status after the proprietor’s death. Additionally, it is a beneficial tool for assets protection efforts, making it even more appealing. Because the assets in an irrevocable trust are no longer owned by you, the trust’s contents are fully accessible by your surviving family and other beneficiaries while remaining out of the reach of creditors or others who may seek to get a hand on said assets against your beneficiaries’ best interests. A revocable trust, as opposed to an irrevocable trust, gives full control of contained assets to the living proprietor. A major benefit is that probate could potentially be avoided entirely if all assets are placed into the trust. This complete avoidance of probate is more complicated with an irrevocable trust, as losing control of all assets simultaneously is impossible for a surviving proprietor. Furthermore, revocable trusts create a relief valve in case circumstances change and the assets originally left out of the trust are no longer enough to sustain the proprietor. Such modifications would not be possible with an irrevocable trust.

The Difference Between a Will and a Trust

Wills tend to split up your estate evenly among your heirs, a trust allows you the flexibility needed to disproportionately distribute your assets based off of each individual beneficiary’s needs.

Do I need a Trust if I have a Will?

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for grantors of a trust to not always make sure that every single one of their assets is included in their trust. Grantors may forget to state all of their assets or they may pass away before they have a chance to do so. Commonly used in combination with a revocable living trust, a pour-over will is a specific will that comes into play when the grantor of the trust has not transferred all of his or her property into the trust before passing way. A pour-over will ensures that all property is poured into the trust and then distributed to the beneficiaries. In doing so, it names the trust as the beneficiary of any property that it does not already include and property that does not pass directly to a living beneficiary. This can be used as a sort of back-up plan to make sure that all of your assets are covered. With the combination of having a pour-over will and a trust, all of your assets will be stated in one document, which is the trust. Many estate planners believe that this has many benefits. Having all of your assets accounted for in one document, the trust, makes it a lot simpler in determining what each beneficiary will receive. It also makes it easier for the executor and trustee to distribute the estate after the grantor’s death. For the individual in question, it is also good to know that trusts are private and they will not become public record once the grantor passes away, which is another useful feature of the pour-over will. This allows more privacy to whomever will be inheriting the property.

Preparing to Meet with a Manhattan Attorney

Before coming into the office, it is good to know the full names, nicknames, ages, and contact information for your current and former spouse(s), children (even if they’re not in your plan), stepchildren, and grandchildren. If you plan on including other relatives into your estate plan, you’ll need their information as well. If you have it, bring a copy of wills, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, long-term care insurance, deeds to real estate, real estate tax bills, your most recent bank and brokerage account statements, and life insurance/retirement plan beneficiary designations. And, of course, bring your original photo ID. Record the value of any real estate, jewelry, cars, and other physical assets you own. You’ll also need recent statements from your bank, brokerage and retirement accounts, as well as the location and contents of any safety deposit boxes. Make a list of all insurance policies and their cash values, as well as a list of any liabilities you may have. While it is not necessary to have a definitive answer for your first consultation, you should be mulling some of these questions over, like who you want, or don’t want, to receive your property; if you want to donate money posthumously to a charity; who you would like as executor of your will; and who you would like as a guardian for any minor children, to name a few. While it’s also not necessary to have a definitive answer for your first consultation, you should similarly be mulling over some of these questions, like if you want to leave instructions for funeral arrangements or if you want to donate your organs or body to science, just to name a few.

For more information, please contact estate planning attorney Inna Fershteyn:

Phone: (718) 333-2395

This post is made available by the lawyer for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the lawyer. The post should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state. ATTORNEY ADVERTISING