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.

What Documents Are Required for a Medicaid Application?

When applying for Medicaid, you must prove that you are within the income and assets threshold to be eligible for long-care services. Prior to applying, you must fully understand what is expected of you in proving your eligibility to submit a medicaid application.

Documents Required for Medicaid Application

Medicaid is a state-run program, so the criteria vary based on your location. It is required to prove that you are eligible for the benefits, placing the burden of proof on you rather than the state. It is your responsibility to provide standard identification of your birth certificate and proof of citizenship. However, when you apply for benefits there is far more to consider:

    • Proof of Income
      • Copy of any pay stubs, Social Security statements, and/or pension checks. Income tax returns for the past five years. Verification of any other sources of income.
    • Bank Records
      •  Copies of bank statements for the past five years. 
    • Property
      • Copy of the deed to any property you owned in the past five years and a copy of the most recent property tax bill. 
    • Retirement Accounts
      • Statements for the past five years of your retirement savings.
    • Insurance
      • Copies of all types of insurance you have.
  • Car Registration
      • Information for any cars you own.
    • Burial Arrangements
      • Copies of pre-paid funeral contracts and/or deeds to burial plots.
  • Transferred Assets
    • There are non-countable assets such as personal possessions, one vehicle, prepaid funeral plans, and principal residence. However, be prepared if the state requests information about these.

The state will verify the information. Intentionally providing falsified information is a serious legal offense. 

When you start to receive benefits, you are not done, as to maintain your Medicaid you must continue to adhere to the eligibility requirements. Verification will be needed, making the Medicaid application process long and complicated. To be as prepared as possible, you will need the help of an estate attorney.

To compile the documents required for a Medicaid application, 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.

Here are The Top 5 Things to Look For

Here are The Top 5 Things to Look For

Planning your estate is an easy means to alleviate the burden on your loved ones following your death. It is important to make sure your wishes are carried out, but as with everything, pre-paid funeral plans have risks attached. When looking for a pre-paid funeral plan, you must exercise the utmost care.

To be considerate of your family, you should not place the entire financial burden of planning your funeral on them. In an effort to relieve your family of this expense, you have the option to pay for your funeral in advance with a pre-paid funeral plan purchased through a funeral home. To make things easier for your family during an already difficult time, pre-paid funeral plans have the potential to act as a good way to spend money to reach the Medicaid qualification threshold.

Here are The Top 5 Things to Look For

Nevertheless, every year when funeral homes go out of business before the need for a funeral arises, consumers lose money. There may be no way to recover your funds if the funeral home mismanages them. Customers are not necessarily entitled to refunds if they change their minds, and some funeral homes sell policies requiring additional payments.

There are five important things for you to consider if you decide to go ahead with a pre-paid funeral plan. 

1. Shop Around

Prices among funeral homes can vastly range, so checking a few different ones before deciding the one you want is a good idea. To promote transparency, the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule requires all funeral homes to supply customers with a general price list that details prices for all possible goods or services. This clause also stipulates the items consumers cannot be required to purchase and the types of misrepresentations that are prohibited.

2. Make Sure You Have a Reputable Funeral Home

Unfortunately, there have been cases of funeral providers taking advantage of customers. Be sure to select a funeral home with an established positive reputation.

3. Carefully Read the Contract

Before signing you must understand what exactly it is that you are agreeing to. For example, if you move, is this plan transferable? Does it cover funeral services? Will your estate be responsible for covering additional costs if prices rise? Is the plan cancellable and refundable?

4. Find Out Where the Money Goes

The plan should provide information on what the funeral home will do with your money. While some states have protections in place to make sure the money is safeguarded, others do not. 

5. Ensure the Plan Won’t Affect Medicaid Benefits

If you are buying the policy as part of Medicaid Planning, you have to purchase an irrevocable plan. This commitment indicates that you cannot cancel it once it is bought. 

Once you have purchased a plan, inform your family about your decision and where the documents are filled. If your family is not updated that you have selected a plan, the plan is useless.

If you want to look for the pre-paid funeral plan that works best for you, contact the Trust and Estate Law Office at (718) 333-2395

3 Reasons to Create a NY Irrevocable Trust

Elder planning is an important and necessary step to take in order to make sure that your wishes for the future are carried out in the way you intended. In this process, a decision you will make is what type of trust is best for you. A trust allows a trustee to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries.

Creating An Irrevocable Trust

One type of trust is an irrevocable trust, which cannot be changed or revoked after signing. Giving up control over your assets is a big commitment that must be carefully considered. Individuals who would benefit from an irrevocable trust typically fall into one of three categories.

3 Reasons to Create NY Irrevocable Trust

  • Minimize Estate Taxes

The primary benefit of an irrevocable trust is minimizing estate taxes. An irrevocable trust removes all incidents of ownership, meaning your assets are removed from your name. Assets in an irrevocable trust are no longer a part of your estate, which allows for tax efficiency.

  • Government Programs 

Unfortunately, Medicare does not cover all costs that a senior citizen needs. Medicaid would pick up the tab for long-term care, but the program has strict need-based limitations. To qualify for the Medicaid income threshold, you could transfer your assets into an irrevocable trust. As long as you fund the trust at least five years before submitting your Medicaid application, the assets will not count in your qualification. After executing your irrevocable trust, a tax ID number is created which allows individuals qualifying for Medicaid to move their assets out of their name.

  • Protect Assets

To protect your assets from creditors, it usually requires your trust to be irrevocable. The Trustee and Beneficiary must be unrelated parties. For people who face lawsuits frequently, having “asset protection trusts” is important. An asset protection trust allows your hard earned money, property, etc. to be safe from creditors.

Living In a Property Transferred in an Irrevocable Trust

If you are living in a property transferred in an irrevocable trust, the creator of the trust will still play a role. For example, they are responsible for all household expenses but reserve the right to live in the house. This is known as a “life estate.” Your house becomes safe from creditors and estate taxes. However, if you change your mind about having an irrevocable trust, the grantor cannot make any changes without the permission of the beneficiary(ies). Moreover, having an irrevocable trust is a significant commitment that should not be taken lightly. 

For more information on how to decide if an irrevocable trust is right for you, please contact the Law Office of Inna Fershteyn at (718) 333-2395.