How to Change a Living Trust?

With life’s ups and downs, it is natural for people to go through many changes throughout their lives. Some of these major changes in your life may make you want to change your living trust. To start, a living trust should not be mistaken for a will. The major difference between the two is that wills go into effect after death while living trusts are effective once they are signed and funded. Most people have revocable living trusts which allows for flexibility and change. However, if you have an irrevocable trust, it would be extremely difficult to make changes as they were made to be permanent and unmalleable.

How to Change a Living Trust

As mentioned previously, there are many reasons that may lead you to make amends to your living trust. Some reasons may be:

  • Adding or changing beneficiaries
  • Getting married
  • Change in distribution of assets
  • Major beneficiary dies 
  • Moving to another state 

In addition, if the living trust is a shared trust, both parties are required to consent in writing for changes. Only one party is needed if it is decided to revoke the living will. Furthermore, if one spouse dies, the surviving spouse can only make amends to their own property and not the deceased spouse’s property. 

The simplest way to make changes to your living trust is to fill out a trust amendment form. This form lets you keep the original trust active while making changes to it. In the situation that you have made changes in the past, you must indicate that these changes override any previous amendments or if you want to keep them in effect. When making these changes, be sure to refer back to your original trust and refer to the changes by which paragraph you are intending to change. This way, it will not cause any confusion and ensure the clarity of your new changes. 

If you plan on making major revisions to your living will but you do not want to revoke your trust, a trust restatement is also possible. This redos your entire trust and allows it to be in effect with the new trust restatement document. 

In severe cases, it can be more plausible for you to revoke your trust instead of making amendments to it. The reason for this is because if the changes are severe, adding amendments to an already established living trust may cause confusion. Oftentimes, people do not revoke their trusts since it means that all their assets from the trust will have to be transferred back into a new trust. Although it is not recommended and can be more expensive and troublesome to revoke a living trust, it is worth it considering that you would want your assets to fall into the right hands. 

Changes in life are bound to happen and it is common that living trusts change with those life turning points. It is important that your assets go where you want them to. If you or a loved one needs assistance on creating trusts or any estate planning, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395.

When is the Best Time to Write a Will?

The thought of writing a will may seem daunting for people as it brings up a topic that no one wants to talk about: death. However, a will is necessary as it will help prevent conflict and trouble for loved ones in the future. It also allows you to decide where you want your assets, property, and more to go to after you have passed. Without it, your assets may go somewhere you don’t want them to. 

5-occasions-to-write-a-will

As the COVID-19 pandemic gradually comes to an end, it was surveyed that 66% of Americans who had serious COVID cases were more likely to have a will. It was also found that 50% of young adults were now more likely to have a will now when compared to pre-pandemic times. After the pandemic, more people now than ever are thinking about their wills- but a life-threatening situation shouldn’t be the only time to think about writing a will. Any time is a good time, especially these five occasions below:

Occasions to write a will:

1. Turning 18

  • In the U.S, most states will allow those who are 18 and over to legally write a will for the first time. Why not get started and think ahead? It’s never too early to start writing a will. Even if you are just 18, a will is always available for alterations as life changes and progresses. 

2. Change in marital status 

  • Whether you get married, divorced, or separated, it comes with significant changes in financial and personal matters. These changes will influence the decisions you will have to write in your will. It is important to ask yourself if you want your spouse (or ex-spouse) to be part of your beneficiaries or not. 

3. Change in financial circumstances

  • Factors such as starting your own business, getting a promotion, or even buying a house can drastically change your estate plan’s situation. Especially when starting a business or buying a house, it is crucial to consider who the succession of the business or inheritance of the house will go to. 

4. Having children

  • As mentioned previously, it is common that those who have children will leave their property and assets to their children. However, people tend to forget that a will can also dictate guardianship for children who are minors if both parents are deceased.  

5. Prolonged amount of time

  • As time goes on, family dynamics and relationships may change which will alter your estate plan as well. It is also possible that the planned executor of your will dies before you do. Even if you do already have a will, it is essential to update it after major life changes. Regardless, if you have been putting off writing up a will, there’s no better time than today. 

For a will to be correctly done and valid after death, it is important to go to an attorney. By executing a valid will, the court will not have to probate the will- saving your loved ones time and trouble. If you or a loved one need assistance or more information on estate planning, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395.

Should I Create a Life Estate or an Irrevocable Trust?

As you are getting older, Asset protection and Elder Law planning becomes relevant.  As you are researching an optimal estate plan to preserve assets from nursing home bills, a life estate deed transfer may initially sound appealing. After all, a life estate deed is a legal means for transferring home ownership rights. However, there are downsides you must fully understand before making this commitment. Prior to making the decision of adopting a life estate, it is crucial to fully understand the risks.

Creating A Life Estate or Irrevocable Trust

Life estates are characterized by two or more people having ownership over a property for non-overlapping periods of time. These parties are the life tenant and the remainderman. The life tenant owns the life estate and has full control during their life. The remainderman has ownership interest upon the death of the life tenant. 

In many circumstances, executing a life estate makes the most sense. It is useful for those looking to simplify estate planning and avoiding the probate process. The transfer of the property to the remainderman is automatic, providing convenience without the need for a will. For example, parents can easily pass homeownership to their children while possessing their property for their entire lives. This provides transparency to the beneficiaries and affirms the life tenant exactly what will happen to their property when they pass away. 

Additionally, a life estate deed protects the property from a Medicaid lien and increases the tax basis. If eligible for Medicaid, the government may try to recover the costs of care from their estate once they pass away. A life estate protects the home from being included in the Medicaid recovery process.

Although a life estate may seem appealing, some caveats come with them. There are three main unfavorable aspects. If you consider these reasons as dealbreakers, a life estate will not work for your personal estate goals. 

Real Estate Related Challenges 

Upon establishing a life estate, obstacles will arise if you plan to sell or mortgage property. The remainderman must agree if you decide to borrow or sell against the property. Nevertheless, this can be solved with a Testamentary Power of Appointment in the Deed. This allows life tenants to change who receives their property by directing its disposition in their will. While it won’t sell the property, it gives the life tenant more leverage in negotiation over the remainderman. An alternative to this is the Nominee Realty Trust, where one or more children act as Trustees for all so that decisions must be followed on a majority vote.

Another obstacle is that if the property is sold, the remainderman is entitled to a portion of the profits equal to what their interest is determined to be at that time. It is also difficult to remove or change a name once it is on a real estate deed.

Legal Responsibility of Remainderman 

The problems of the remainderman become your problem as well. If this individual is in any legal predicament, such as being sued, getting a divorce, owing taxes, or filing for bankruptcy, the interest in the home is not protected. However, while claims can be made against the property, nobody can kick you out for the duration of your lifespan.

Medicaid and State Assistance Disqualification 

Giving away an interest in the property could result in disqualification from Medicaid assistance, should you need long-term care within five years of the transfer. To add on, that state could file a claim against the income portion of the payments it has made on your behalf. In this case, at least the portion of the proceeds allocated to your child would be protected.

Irrevocable Trust

Irrevocable trust is a much better alternative to protect your property from creditors including Medicaid liens and nursing home costs. For more information on irrevocable trust, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395.