A good way to plan an estate is to take all assets out of your name. This way, you avoid the delays and disclosure of probate. There are several ways to hold assets to avoid a New York Probate proceeding. Since each person’s estate is different, it is best to consult with a New York Estate Planning and Probate Attorney to determine the best way to manage a person’s assets and reduce estate taxes after death.
Choices of Holding Non-Probate Assets
• Joint bank accounts, stock accounts or other investment accounts.
• Payment upon death accounts.
• Life insurance policies which provide for proceeds to be distributed to beneficiaries.
• Pension, profit sharing and other retirement accounts which provide for assets to be distributed to beneficiaries.
• Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries.
• Real property held as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Property is automatically transferred to the joint owner or owners after the decedent’s death.
• Revocable Living Trust. The trust property is held by the trustee for the benefit of the trust, and the donor has access to the property during their lifetime.
• Irrevocable Living Trust. The trust property is held by the trustee for the benefit of the trust, and the donor is unable to make changes or remove assets for their personal use during their lifetime.
Disadvantages of Holding Property Jointly
One of the disadvantages of holding property jointly is the joint owner has access to the assets and can sell them. The decedent has less control over their assets. Many times a husband and wife hold bank accounts and other investment accounts in joint names. While is facilitates the transfer of assets after a decedent’s death, the decedent gives up the full ownership interest and control of the property during their lifetime. With a payment upon death account, the decedent has 100% control of the asset during their entire lifetime. After death, the asset is transferred to the decedent’s named and designated beneficiary. This may be a better choice for a decedent who is not survived by a spouse and wants to leave their money, stock or over investment asset to a child or other heir after their death.
Disadvantages of Holding Property in an Irrevocable Trust
There are no major disadvantages of holding property in a revocable trust because the donor has the control over the asset during their lifetime. The only disadvantage is having to transfer your assets into the trust and possibly having to file a trust tax return. The disadvantage of having property in an irrevocable living trust is the donor has no control over the asset once it is transferred to the trust, the trust having become the assets’ new owner.
Since probate and estate matters are so complex, especially if a person has substantial assets, many people choose to seek advice from a New York Estate Planning and Probate Attorney. If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.