Trust Attorneys in Yonkers, NY

Explaining the Benefits of Trusts as Estate Planning Tools

Trusts were historically only used by those with significant wealth, often that had been passed down through generations, but this is no longer the case. People all across Westchester County and the rest of the state have taken advantage of the many benefits and flexibility associated with trusts. There are also specific trusts for certain situations, such as a special needs trust or a Medicaid asset protection trust. Understanding how trusts work and what the different options are can help you make informed decisions when it comes to using trusts in your estate plan.
Trusts can serve a valuable purpose in many aspects of elder law, from estate planning to Medicaid asset protection. Get help from local attorneys in Yonkers, NY, when you call the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC.

What Is a Trust?

A trust is an estate planning tool that lets you set aside certain assets to be distributed to a beneficiary under specific terms. When you create a trust, you name the beneficiary, which can be a person or an organization like a charity, and a trustee. The trustee then distributes the assets to the beneficiary according to the terms of the trust, which can vary. For example, some trusts are set up to distribute upon the trustor’s death, while others may have distributions at specific milestones, such as when the beneficiary graduates college or gets married. The terms of the trust are outlined in the estate planning documents and can generally be as simple or as complex as you like.

What Role Does a Trustee Serve?

The trustee is the person in charge of managing the trust. Depending on the type of trust, this may involve only distributing assets, or it could be much more complex, with the trustee responsible for managing investments or property. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiary to manage the trust in their best interests and in accordance with the terms of the trust. Some trustors choose family members or trusted friends to serve as trustee, but it’s also common for this role to be filled by an attorney or a professional who has more experience in business or financial matters than a relative might have. This can make it easier to deal with any legal issues that may arise and ensure that the trustee is able to fulfill their duties.

What Are Some Common Types of Trusts?

There are many types of trusts, each with its own advantages and disadvantages and unique purpose. Here are some of the most common types of trust you may want to consider using:

  • Living trust: A revocable living trust can be modified at any time and has a wide variety of applications
  • Irrevocable trust: An irrevocable trust generally can’t be changed once it’s established.
  • Special needs trust: A special needs trust ensures that a loved one is provided for without impacting whether they can qualify for other state and federal benefits
  • Medicaid asset protection trust: This trust helps shield your assets from being required to be used to pay for long-term care.
  • Charitable trust: Charitable trusts are set up with a charity as the beneficiary and provide some tax incentives to the trustors.
  • Generation skipping trust: These trusts are set up with grandchildren instead of children as the direct beneficiaries.

If you’re not sure which type of trust is best for your situation or you have questions about any of the above options, our firm can help.

How Do I Modify or Revoke a Trust?

A revocable trust can be modified or revoked at any time — hence the name. These types of trusts offer the most benefits in terms of flexibility. They allow you to protect your assets and ensure they are passed along as you intend, but they also let you make changes whenever you need to, including changing the beneficiaries or what assets are in the trust. An estate planning attorney can help you create trusts or modify them as necessary.

If you set up an irrevocable trust, these generally can’t be modified. It’s important to talk with a lawyer to ensure you understand the implications of this type of trust before you move forward. This trust has its benefits, but it offers significantly less flexibility. You could end up in a situation where assets are going to someone you don’t want them to because circumstances have changed, but the trust can’t be altered.

What Benefits Do Trusts Offer?

One of the major benefits of trusts is that they let you maintain the highest level of control over your assets. If you set up a living trust, you will be able to make changes at any time, and a trust also keeps your assets from having to go through probate, which means the beneficiary has immediate access to their inheritance according to the terms of the trust without having to wait.
Another key benefit of trusts is that they provide more privacy. Probate cases are part of the public record, which means anyone who requests those legal documents has access to what your estate included and who the beneficiaries were. Trusts provide a higher level of privacy because they are not subject to public record.

If you’re interested in using a trust as part of your estate plan, call 914-344-5145 to schedule an initial consultation with one of the NY lawyers at the Law Offices of Joseph A. Marra, PLLC. Our experienced estate planning attorneys can walk you through the different types of trusts and help you with creating terms that reflect your estate planning goals.

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