Estate Planning FAQs
Q. WHAT IF I DO NOTHING?
Q. I OWN ASSETS JOINTLY WITH OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS. IS THIS OKAY?
In some instances, inheritances by the operation of law can be very convenient. However, this method of transferring assets to heirs does not allow for special planning such as tax reduction or trusts for grandchildren or other heirs. Also, assets held jointly may result in unintended inheritances.
Q. WHAT IS A LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT?
To be effective, New York law requires that a Will be submitted for probate. This is the process by which the Court validates the Will and authorizes the executor to act on behalf of the estate. Following probate, the executor proceeds with identifying, gathering and valuing the assets, paying all creditors, filing the appropriate tax returns and distributing assets according to the directions set forth in the Will.
Q. I’VE HEARD A LOT ABOUT TRUSTS. WHAT CAN THEY DO FOR ME?
Trusts created during the lifetime of the creator do not require court involvement in the form of probate because the trustees are given the legal authority to act when the trust document is executed. Testamentary trusts are trust agreements that are part of a Will and do require that the court appoint the Trustee. The Trustee, like the Executor, must value the assets, pay creditors, file required tax returns and see to the proper distribution of assets.
Q. ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRUSTS?
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