New York Estate Planning, Probate and Elder Law Attorney




A Lawyer With Experience Who Can Create the Trusts You Need

There is a widely held misconception that trusts are financial and estate planning instruments meant only for wealthy families. This is not entirely true. Families without significant wealth can have numerous reasons for creating a trust. It is essential to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable estate planning attorney before taking this step. I help individuals establish trusts only when it makes sense as part of their comprehensive estate plans.

Many of my clients who contact me do not intend to establish trusts, primarily because they do not know what trusts can accomplish. Only after meeting with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer who will take the time needed to learn about their situation do many people discover that a trust fits their needs.

General Information About Trusts

The person who creates the trust and transfers property into it is known as the grantor, donor, or settlor; the person who invests and protects the property placed in a trust is known as the trustee; and the person who receives the benefit of the property held in the trust is known as the beneficiary. The grantor “funds” the trust by transferring ownership of assets to the trust. Trusts can be funded with cash, residences, stocks, bonds, life insurance policies, business interests, or any other asset.

A trust can be revocable (also known as a “living trust”) or irrevocable. In a revocable trust, the assets can be removed, and the trust agreement can be amended or revoked at any time by the creator of the trust, and may be used in place of a will. An irrevocable trust cannot be amended or revoked — the assets must remain in the trust and the trust provisions cannot be changed. Trusts for accomplishing more specific needs include:

  • special needs trust. This allows a beneficiary who is physically or mentally disabled to receive financial help from a trustee without jeopardizing that person’s right to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid benefits.

  • A gift trust. This not only reduces estate taxes, but also allows a grantor to retain some control over when his or her beneficiaries will receive assets and how those assets may be used.

  • life insurance trust. It is intended for high-asset individuals who have a taxable estate worth more than $5.34 million ($10.68 million for a married couple). It can also help the beneficiaries of a life insurance policy avoid federal and New York state estate taxes.

  • testamentary trust. This is created by the terms of a will and does not go into effect until the death of the testator, and is most often used by parents to protect their minor children.

After consulting with me, you will know whether a trust is necessary to meet your needs. If it does, I will take decisive action to create the trust as part of your estate plan.