Trusts are important tools that provide flexibility, tax benefits, and other advantages for estate planning purposes or even during the grantor’s lifetime. As the benefits of creating a trust gain more attention, more people have begun utilizing as a part of their estate planning. However, there are many trust options, and they are not one-size-fits-all. An experienced trust attorney from Pierro, Connor & Strauss can advise New Yorkers from the greater Albany and NYC-metro area with all trust matters from creation and administration to litigation.

Benefits of setting up a trust

Depending on your goals, a trust can provide benefits to beneficiaries immediately or at the time of the grantor’s death. A person, association, corporation, board, governmental agency, or any other legal “person” may dispose of real and personal property by way of a trust under the New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law.

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Louis W. Pierro
Aaron E. Connor
Peter J. Strauss
Frank E. Hemming III

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Some of the many reasons to create a trust include:

Avoiding probate. Unless the trust is a testamentary trust that is created upon the grantor’s death as part of an estate plan, the trust assets do not need to go through probate to be distributed. Avoiding probate helps  reduce costs and keeps sensitive matters private rather than making financial details part of a public court record.

Reducing taxes. Certain trusts can reduce the trust maker’s taxable assets, though they may be subject to gift tax requirements. Annual transfers to the trust may also be made tax-free up to the exemption limit.

Control over property. The assets that the grantor places into a trust must be distributed according to the terms of the trust. This means that a grantor can place restrictions on how the assets are treated far into the future, during periods of disability, and even past their death.

Maintain flexibility. Some trusts can be amended and allow for flexibility. Others, however, cannot be changed, so it is important for grantors to choose the option that best reflects their intentions in creating the trust.

Not all trusts offer the same benefits. A New York estate planning lawyer can explain the pros and cons of each trust in any given situation.

Types of trusts in New York

Some of the common types of trusts include:

  • Testamentary Trust – A testamentary trust is created as a part of a grantor’s estate plan and goes into effect upon their death. A testamentary trust can hold financial assets or personal property, real estate, personal papers, and other valuable holdings. A testamentary trust must comply with New York estate planning requirements and be approved by the court.
  • Spendthrift Trust – A spendthrift trust limits the amount of money that the beneficiary receives and protects it from most of the beneficiary’s creditors.
  • Living Trust – A living trust goes into effect as soon as the trust document is signed during the grantor’s life. Living trusts can be revocable or irrevocable.
  • Revocable Trust – A revocable trust can be changed or ended by the trustee without the beneficiary’s permission.
  • Irrevocable Trust – An irrevocable trust cannot be modified or dissolved after creation, however, in certain circumstances there may be exceptions to this rule. It is often used to transfer assets out of an estate and to the beneficiary, thereby avoiding estate taxes and probate.
  • Charitable Trusts – A charitable trust allows the grantor to benefit either a specific charity or a charitable purpose without the formalities otherwise necessary to set up a non-profit corporation to serve the same purpose.
  • Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust – Placing ownership of a life insurance policy in an irrevocable trust exempts the value of the policy from the grantor’s taxable estate. Upon death, the proceeds are payable to the trust and distributed to the trust beneficiaries without estate tax.
  • Supplemental Needs Trust – An “SNT” can provide a beneficiary with discretionary funds that will not jeopardize governmental benefits. It can be created as part of the estate plan or as a separate trust that operates during the grantor’s lifetime.

Trusts can serve so many purposes for the individuals and entities that create them. Your trust lawyer can help you determine whether and what type of trust is the most appropriate for your circumstances and goals.

Consult with an Albany trust attorney

Pierro, Connor, & Strauss, LLC, is happy to provide estate planning, including trust services, to clients in Albany and throughout New York, including Manhattan and the 5 boroughs. If you are facing decisions about how to manage or distribute assets, please call and speak to one of our trust attorneys today. If you are a beneficiary with questions about how an existing trust was created or is being managed, a trust litigation lawyer at the firm is ready to listen to your concerns as well. Consultations are always confidential.

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