Wills and Trusts
At the Law Offices of Patricia G. Micek PLLC, we understand that discussing your last will and testament might be difficult. We also know the value, clarity, protection, and peace of mind that a Will can provide for you and your family.
We understand that no one looks forward to the process of creating a Will, since it often brings up difficult family issues. However, once these issues are discussed with a professional with years of experience in this area, the choices become clearer and the decisions can be made much more easily. A carefully crafted Will ensures that your assets will accurately transfer to your heirs and beneficiaries according to your wishes, avoids family conflict and costly disputes, and can protect those assets from some of the major misfortunes that may happen to your family members.
It is often said that planning is caring, and that is never truer than in these times of turmoil. Simple Wills are no longer enough in this complicated time. Consider how you would feel if you left all of your assets to your spouse outright, as people currently do using only a simple Will. If your spouse remarries after you die, your assets and possessions may go to their second spouse, and never get to your children at all. If your spouse has to go into a nursing home or needs long-term care at home, your estate may be completely eaten up by these costs, leaving nothing for your children or grandchildren. It doesn’t have to be this way, and we can show you how to easily prevent these disasters from happening to your family.
This planning will give you a peace of mind that your assets will be properly distributed to your loved ones, and never be passed to someone that you do not wish to benefit. Your family will thank you for caring enough to take the simple steps required to protect them.
Some people may be superstitious about making a will or talking about their own death, or feel that it might bring them bad luck to discuss such things. But the alternative is that you are not in control of your own estate if something happens to you. After working a lifetime to build up your assets, do you really want the state of New York to decide who gets them after you are gone?
If you have under-age children, a Will is the only way to name who will be the guardian of those children should you and your spouse die before they reach age 18. It may be a difficult decision to decide who will take care of the children in these circumstances, but you and your spouse should be the ones who make that decision, not the courts. Again, this is a situation that we have encountered many times and can help you to reach the right decision. If circumstances change, you can always make a new Will and name different people. Even the best Will should be reviewed at least every 5 years to determine if it still fits your family’s needs and your wishes.
A valid Will is also very important if you have a loved one who is under a disability. Special provisions need to be made to ensure that they receive the maximum benefits that they can receive both from your estate and from the state. We can help you protect them so that they will receive every possible benefit that they are entitled to, and we will show you how to enhance their lifestyle while not disqualifying them from their government benefits.
Your Will should always be done by a qualified trusts and estates attorney. An attorney who does not concentrate on this area will not know the latest planning techniques available to protect your family. Wills printed off the internet are often not able to be probated in New York because of the specific, detailed requirements surrounding the Will-signing ceremony which are required by the New York probate courts.
By visiting the Law Offices of Patricia G. Micek PLLC while you are healthy and able, you can help your family minimize potential probate court costs and delays, remove potential obstructions in the probate of the will, and take full advantage of any tax savings.
Wills are a basic estate planning tool and everyone should have one.
However, Wills MUST go through the probate process. This means that a lawyer has to file the Will in court before it can into effect, and the court supervises how your estate is distributed. In New York, this process generally is expensive, takes a year, and can take much longer if there are any issues with the Will or any family disputes.
Perhaps most important of all, Wills take effect only after your death. The only way to protect your assets during your own lifetime and after is to use a Trust.
Trusts protect your assets immediately, so that you don’t lose them during your lifetime. You retain your own assets and don’t have to spend them down, and you keep the income that they generate.
- Revocable Living Trusts allow your family to avoid the expense and delay of probate, which is a huge savings of time and money. However, this type of trust does not offer any protection for your assets.
- Irrevocable Trusts also allow you to avoid probate, but in addition enable you to protect your home and your money, and qualify for free aides to care for you at home. This allows you to keep all of your assets and AVOID THE NURSING HOME completely.
This trust does not touch your income. Your social security and pension go directly to your account just as always and are not impacted by the trust. You automatically get all of the income, interest and dividends from whatever money or other asset is in the trust.
With this trust, you do not have to turn over control of your assets to another person, because YOU CAN BE YOUR OWN TRUSTEE.
If you put your home into the trust, as most people do, you will have the complete right to reside in the home for the rest of your life. You will receive the same income tax deductions and real estate tax exemptions that you receive now, e.g. STAR program, VA, etc. If you want to sell the home and buy a new home, or simply keep the money invested, you just sell the home and buy whatever property you want or put the proceeds in an account in the name of the trust. The assets stay protected whatever you choose to do. There are no tax implications from this type of trust- either for you or for your successor trustee or beneficiaries.
It is a common misconception that irrevocable trusts, once created, cannot be changed. While that is true of many irrevocable trusts created to avoid taxes, it is not true of our Family Asset Protection Trust.
A Family Asset Protection Trust permits you to receive all the income on your assets, you only give up the ability to take out your principal directly for yourself. Most people leave a cash cushion outside of the trust to cover large expenses such as a car purchase, or an emergency. You should leave an amount outside of the trust that you feel comfortable with. However, if there is an emergency and you need principal out of the trust, you can simply write a check to a beneficiary, such as one of your children, and they can give the money to you or pay whatever expense needs to be paid. You can either be your own Trustee, or you can control the Trustee because you can change them at any time. You can also change who gets your assets during your life and after your death, and therefore maintain 100% control of your assets. You can change or add or remove beneficiaries at any time. If you become mentally disabled, your successor trustee can step in and maintain the trust according to the directions that you gave, without any expensive court Guardianship proceeding which would otherwise be needed.
The Family Asset Protection Trust is quite flexible and user-friendly. Especially for those without long-term care insurance, the Trust is the only safe method available to shelter their assets so that they pass to their loved ones, and are not lost to the nursing home or in-home health care costs.
We will work with you to determine which type of trusts are most appropriate for your family and best protect your assets so you do not lose them during your lifetime. Listed below are some of the most common trusts utilized by our clients:
- Irrevocable trusts
- Revocable living trusts
- Irrevocable life insurance trusts
- Asset protection trusts
- Special Needs Trusts